Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts  

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Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (SNBA) was the term under which two groups of French artists united, the first for some exhibitions in the early 1860s, the second since 1890 for annual exhibitions.

Established in 1862, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts was first chaired by the writer Théophile Gautier, with the painter Aimé Millet as deputy chairman. The committee consisted of the painters Eugène Delacroix, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Puvis de Chavannes and among the exhibitors were Léon Bonnat, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Charles-François Daubigny, Gustave Doré, and Edouard Manet. In 1864, just after the death of Delacroix, the society organized a retrospective exhibition of 248 paintings and lithographs of this famous painter and step-uncle of the emperor - and ceased to mount further exhibitions.

In 1890, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts was re-vitalised under the rule of Puvis de Chavannes, Ernest Meissonier, Carolus-Duran, Bracquemond and Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, and since then its annual exhibition was reviewed as the Salon de Champ-de-Mars, traditionally opening a fortnight later than the official Salon de Champs-Élysées, organised by the Société des Artistes Français. In both societies the president was a painter and the vice-president a sculptor. The first president of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts was Ernest Meissonier, but he died soon. The second was Puvis de Chavannes. The vice-president was Auguste Rodin.


The 19th century in French art is characterized by a continuous struggle between traditionally educated artists supported by official politics, and a growing number of artists who preferred to work individually and at their own risks. Reviewing the historical situation is difficult, even a century later. But evidently opponents to the official politics gained ground after the fall of the 2nd Empire, and were instrumental to redirect French cultural politics to liberal positions. Thus, the splitting-off of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890 can be considered as the first Secessionist manifestation.

A new way

After World War I, in 1926, the "Puvis de Chavannes" prize was created consisting in a retrospective exhibition of the main works of the prizewinning artists, in Paris. During the twenteenth century, this exhibition was located at the Grand Palais or the Musée d'Art Moderne.

Most noted awarded painters: 1941: Wilhem Van Hasselt, 1944: Jean Gabriel Domergue, 1952: Tristan Klingsor, 1955: Georges Delplanque, 1957: Albert Decaris, 1958: Jean Picard Le Doux, 1963: Maurice Boitel, 1966: Pierre Gaillardot, 1968: Pierre-Henry, 1969:Louis Vuillermoz, 1970: Daniel du Janerand, 1971: Jean-Pierre Alaux; 1975: Jean Monneret, 1987: André Hambourg.<ref>Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Biennale 1991, Grand Palais, année du centenaire, catalogue pages 8 and 9</ref>

During the last decades of the 20th century, after "living treasure" Takanori Oguiss, and during the rule of chairman François Baboulet, some of Japanese artists could exhibit their paintings as guests of the SNBA: Takaaki Matsuda, Katsufumi Toyota, Kazuko Kobayashi, Hideo Hando, Yoko Tsuishi and Noboru Sotoyama.

In 2007, the committee of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts created the title of Member of Honour which was given to one of the most famous painters of the Salon, Maurice Boitel, born 1919 and died 2007.

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