View of the Salon du Louvre

View of the Salon du Louvre

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Title: View of the Salon du Louvre from 1779.

Author : SAINT-AUBIN by Gabriel Jacques (1724 - 1780)

Creation date : 1779

Date shown: between August 25 and October 3, 1779

Dimensions: Height 19 - Width 44

Technique and other indications: oil on wood, oil on paper, marouflage

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © RMN - Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / Stéphane Maréchalle

Picture reference: 10-501240 / RF 1993-9

View of the Salon du Louvre from 1779.

© RMN - Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / Stéphane Maréchalle

Publication date: December 2014

Professor at Paris VIII University

Historical context

The fifty or so works that we know by Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin reveal a particular taste for scenes from everyday life, made from quick sketches of "things seen". Notebook in pocket, tireless surveyor of Paris, he never ceased to capture the moment: his work is a visual complement to Paris painting by Louis-Sébastien Mercier. “He draws anytime and anywhere,” writes his brother Charles-Germain.

Saint-Aubin was particularly fascinated by the works of art market: many catalogs of paintings bear, in the margins, drawings of him in pencil, "little croquetons" caught on the spot. That of 1776 bears the following mention: "Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, painter of the Academy of Saint-Luc, drew on his catalogs the paintings as they were exhibited for sale, a good part of these curious catalogs is between the hands of the Baron de Saint-Julien. "

He was one of the few artists to represent the Salon du Louvre in the 18th century.e century, hence the keen documentary interest of each of his works.

Image Analysis

Subject of the painting presented here, the Salon of 1779 was inaugurated on August 25, Saint-Louis day, royal feast par excellence, and closed on October 3. In the space of two months, thirty-five thousand people visited it to admire more than three hundred works, representing the production of seventy artists, including forty-six painters (among them, Joseph Vernet, Hubert Robert and Jean Siméon Chardin ), twelve sculptors and twelve engravers.

The composition was prepared with a drypoint outlining the outline of the frames, then painted on three independent sheets of paper which were then laminated onto canvas, one for each wall of the Salon Carré. The gaze here is that of a true "reporter" who seems to catch a snapshot on the fly with a skilful and quick stroke of a pencil. We can guess in the foreground groups of visitors who, no doubt, comment on what is on display. The painter presents all of the works in the gallery by homogenizing their treatment: the representation of the paintings is subject to a pictorial style abandoning outlines in favor of a chromatic dilution which outweighs the precision of the drawing. We can guess large full-length portraits, historical and allegorical scenes, landscapes, but we cannot distinguish any particular subject, any specific painter. However, that year, the public was impressed by some singular works, notably President Molé seized by the factions at the time of the wars of the Fronde, a painting by François André Vincent.


Vibrant with life, this sketch is primarily concerned with visually translating the atmosphere of effervescence that reigns in the Salon Carré du Louvre. It clearly reflects a fundamental transformation of art in the Age of Enlightenment. The XVIIIe century sees the development of an open space for the consumption of images: through Salons and criticism, the public is a new actor on the art scene. He can access the image, submit it to his judgment and shape his taste.

The key date is 1747: from then on, the Salon became a regular (every two years, August 25) and very frequented institution, by which the Academy opened to a new audience. At the same time, it lost the monopoly on the legitimacy of aesthetic appreciation. There was now a market, in which no longer only aristocratic or ecclesiastical sponsors, but the simple amateur. As for the portrait of the king, it is present (in the upper part of the image), but outside the representation.

It is indeed the public, and the public alone, collective, anonymous, who say and dictate by their gaze and their perception of a work the quality of an artistic creation. In 1783, in The Triumvirate of the Arts, Carmontelle writes that the Salon is “a vast theater where neither rank, nor favor, nor wealth can retain seats for bad taste. […] The public, natural judge of the fine arts, already pronounces on the merit of the paintings that two years of work have brought to life. […] The experience of some, the enlightenment of others, the extreme sensitivity of one party, and above all the good faith of the great number finally succeed in producing a judgment that is all the more fair, since the most complete freedom is there. chaired. "

The small painting by Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin reflects this new character of an art market entirely open to the public's judgment, where "the most complete freedom" reigns.

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CROW Thomas, Painting and its audience in Paris in the 18th century, Paris, Macula, 2000, STEEL Émile, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin: painter, draftsman and engraver (1724-1780), Paris / Bruxelles, G. van Oest, 1929-1931, 2 vol.GLORIEUX Guillaume, Ensign of Gersaint: Edme-François Gersaint, art dealer on the Notre-Dame bridge (1694-1750), Seyssel, Champ Vallon, coll. "Epochs", 2002. GUICHARD Charlotte, Art lovers in Paris in the 18th century, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, coll. “Epochs”, 2008.

To cite this article

Joël CORNETTE, "View of the Salon du Louvre"

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