Created in 1699, the Salon was, in the latter half of the 19th century, the only exhibition, both popular and institutional, that allowed artists to make their work known. A Session of the Painting Jury by Gervex shows the importance of the event and the reaction of the members of the jury awarding prizes, as well as that of the art critics writing for newspapers. This show reflects the official taste with several paintings acquired by the French State following the Salon for the Musée du Luxembourg, which was devoted to the contemporary art of the time.
For a long time considered as a place where Academism was promoted, the Salon in fact allowed the confrontation of diverse artistic experiments. As they chose subjects from the Antiquity or the Bible, some artists renewed traditional formulae by their style and composition, while others favoured more recent or contemporary events.
Indeed, the interest in modern life was not restricted to the small circle of the avant-garde, as shown by the success met by portraits and mundane scenes, which constituted an important source of income for famous artists.