Success at the Salon
In order to maintain his foothold in the fine arts and keep both eye and hand in practice, Juglaris accepted numerous portrait commissions. This work suited his frugality as well: the willingness of patrons to voluntarily sit for him eliminated the expense of hiring live models as he continued to hone his easel skills.
Despite his constant complaint that “my work in industrial art took all my time,” Juglaris nonetheless began exhibiting regularly at the famous Paris Salon. This annual juried art exhibition, sponsored by the French government, served as a proving ground for fine artists. Among his Salon paintings were Offering to the God Lares, The Confidence, Paolo Veronese in Venice, and The Invasion, all exhibited between 1873 and 1880. His Paolo Veronese painting, commemorating the “active and even pleasure-loving life of one of the great masters of the Renaissance,” received the greatest public attention and earned Juglaris the privilege of submitting future paintings to the Salon without advance juried review.
Meanwhile, Juglaris received various commissions for decorative and mural work at the Palais Garnier Opera House, the Palais Gioia, and the Théâtre du Châtelet--all in Paris. In 1876, Juglaris also won a competition to decorate a civic theater at a newly-constructed Mechanics Institute in Barnsley, England, north of Leeds. Glad to seize the day, he traveled to England (despite his almost complete ignorance of English) to undertake the commission. After months of Herculean effort, his decorations were unveiled to considerable acclaim. At the ball celebrating the theater’s official dedication, he was immensely gratified by the sign put up by his hosts: “Honor to the painter Juglaris.”
What is the Paris Salon?
The Paris Salon (most commonly and simply known as the Salon) was founded in 1667 as an annual or biennial exhibition of the Ecole des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts) sponsored by the French government. It provided an opportunity for recent graduates to display their work. In the ensuing years, however, the Salon grew considerably, accepting art executed in an academic Beaux-Arts style and approved by a jury of eighteen artists who had already exhibited in previous years. Historical and heroically-themed paintings were generally favored: realism and experimentation of any kind were discouraged. After the French Revolution, the Salon was no longer restricted to French artists. This paved the way for the Salon to become the biggest and most prestigious art event in the western world. Especially in the nineteenth century, the annual May opening at the Palais des Champs Elysees, a large exhibition facility, became a glittering Parisian social occasion, attracting thousands of visitors--prospective patrons and purchasers for the art displayed.
In the mid-nineteenth century the conservative tastes of Salon juries and their partiality to strictly academic art became a point of controversy. Less than half of the artists submitting works for jury consideration were admitted to the Salon. Despite changing times, artists given to more innovative styles still found themselves repeatedly snubbed and barred from the Salon, impacting their credibility and salability with the public. Other artists accepted by the Salon were disappointed even when their works were accepted. All exhibited paintings were arranged alphabetically room-by room. Each gallery displayed as many as 200 paintings mounted from floor to ceiling. Some paintings were “skyed”—mounted so high on crowded walls as to be barely visible to Salon patrons.
The famous French painter Jean-Auguste Ingres openly disdained the Salon for its commercialization and circus-like atmosphere. “Artists,” he protested, “are driven to exhibit here by the attraction of profits, the desire to get themselves noticed at any price, by the supposed good fortune of an eccentric subject capable of producing an effect and leading to an advantageous sale.” In 1864, amid such loud complaints, the Emperor Napoleon III took the extraordinary measure of sanctioning an alternative Salon des Refuses (Exhibition of the Rejected) for those not welcomed at the famous Salon or unhappy with their treatment. Open to participants on a non-juried basis, it attracted 366 painters and 64 sculptors.
The Salon des Refuses did prove to be more sporadic than regular: its next exhibitions were held in in 1874, 1875, and 1886. Nevertheless, it marked a turning point. In challenging the aesthetic infallibility of the Beaux Arts establishment, it inspired artists to organize salons of their own. For instance, French Impressionists hosted almost annual exhibitions beginning in 1874 and a biennial Salon des Independants (Exhibition of Independents) was launched in 1884, displaying 5000 art works from more than 400 artists disposed to modernism in various forms and styles. This was followed by the creation of the Salon des Champs du Mars (Mars Street Exhibition) in 1890 and the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Exhibition) in 1903 by still other artist groups with interests and tastes of their own. Recognizing the changing tides of the Parisian art world and the difficulty of navigating it without generating acrimony, the French government and the Ecole des Beaux Arts withdrew their official sponsorship of the Paris Salon in 1881. Thereafter, it was hosted and organized by an independent Societie des Artistes Francais (Society of French Artists).
Although not impervious to more modern trends in art, Juglaris remained focused on winning acceptance as a Paris Salon painter as long as he lived and worked in Paris. He regarded his admission to the ranks of those artists permitted to exhibit at the Paris Salon on a non-juried basis as one of the great accomplishments of his career.