Henri Gervex: Une Séance du Jury de Peinture au Salon des Artistes Français
Since the Salon of 1880, the artists themselves elected the colleagues whom they wished to pass judgment on the admission or the refusal of artworks to the Salon. The thirty-one jurors whom Gervex represented in a hall of the Palais des Champs-Elysees, gesticulating before the pictures to be examined, were never actually all present at the same time. So what we have here, rather, is an artistic homage with a strong realistic connotation rather than a scene of stormy kind. Portraitists such as Bonnat or Carolus-Duran, lovers of mythology and history like Bouguereau, Cabanel or Jean-Paul Laurens, can also be seen as supporters of the renewal of the landscape, like Français, Harpignies or Cazin, and some strong personalities that will soon shake this system of exposition. With his self-portrait and the portraits of Puvis de Chavannes or Roll, in the group of seven people represented to the left of the door, Gervex introduced the representation of a number of future dissidents.
Despite the reform of the status of the exhibitions and although the artists now decided among themselves who was entitled to judge works, the protests of those excluded did not cease. For example, in the spring of the previous year, a number of rejected artists, including a number of proponents of neo-impressionism (Cross, Seurat, Signac, etc.), formed themselves into an independent group and then, in the winter, into an artistic society under the name of Society of Independent Artists. Clarifying its motto, "An exhibition without a jury or a reward", this group of artists began the work of undermining which would soon succumb to the oldest French artistic institution. In 1890, led by Meissonier and Puvis de Chavannes, a split resulted in the creation of the National Society of Fine Arts, followed soon by the creation of a host of other new specialized or generalist fairs. The Salon had lived. [L'Histoire par L'image]