Victorian London : Mapping the Emergence of the Modern Art Gallery

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Salon Parisien

An article in the Times on 19 January 1885, introduced “‘Le Salon Parisien.’ Under this somewhat affected title, Messrs. Cochrane and Mertens have just opened at 160, New Bond-street, an exhibition of foreign art, chiefly remarkable for containing a whole room-ful of pictures and sketches by the young Belgian artist Jan van Beers.” The exhibition also included work by Fernand Khnopff and the “last work of the lamented Bastien-Lepage.” (6) The gallery produced elaborate catalogues for this exhibition and for the “Second exhibition” [1885?] and “Third exhibition” (1886-7), all three of which are in the collection of the National Art Library.

The exhibitions attracted considerable attention, and the catalogues include extensive quotations from the press coverage. These extracts give some sense of the lavish display and savvy marketing involved in the enterprise. An extract from the Daily Telegraph focuses on the work of Jan Van Beers, who was the main attraction at all three exhibitions and seems to have been involved in the hanging of the show: “The skill and judgment exercised by the painter, in arrangement of the walls, would alone stamp him a decorative artist of rare capacity. That such an effect could be got from sackcloth, dyed a dark olive green, and rubbed with bronze or gold near the cornice, might hardly have been credited -, but this richly supplemented by massive folds and festoons of velvet or plush of the same deep hue is the main setting of M. Van Beers’ gems. He has even framed many of them in plain flat mounts covered in the same coarse-grained dull green sacking.” (Collection of Pictures of Jan Van Beers, 22.) The pictures, too, excited considerable comment. An extract from Life noted that Van Beers “has a passion for legs, female, of course, and he paints comely dancers in all possible attitudes” (46); while the review in the Times concluded “Unfortunately in too many instances, their subjects are detestable. They must pass for votive tablets to be hung in the temple of the great goddess Lubricity.” (20)

The press also devoted considerable attention to the fashionable crowds who attended the opening. An article in Baily’s Magazine of Sport and Pastimes described the scene: “many carriages were in line outside that Salon Parisien, where Jan van Beers shows us such brilliant specimens of the demi-monde. It is, by the way, needless to say that, as here and there in the salon is a picture more or less suggestive and verging on the improprieties, the exhibition has been and is the rage. All London has seen it, and in the coming month it will be the delight of our country cousins.” (“Our Van,” Baily’s Magazine of Sport and Pastime, April 1885, 46.)

The Year’s Art continued to include an exhibitions listing for the Salon Parisien on New Bond Street (but with no street number) through 1892 (“Other London Exhibitions Open in 1892,” The Year’s Art, 1893, 94). I have not been able to find any advertisements or reviews for the Salon Parisien during these dates, however, and the Dowdeswell Gallery moved into the space at 160 New Bond Street in 1887.

Address: 160 New Bond St

160 New bond streetStart Date: 1885

End Date: at least 1892 [at least 1887?]*

Dealers: Messrs. Cochrane and Mertens

Selected exhibitions

Collection of Pictures by Jan Van Beers (1885) [NAL]

Second Exhibition [1885?] [NAL]

Third Exhibition (1886-1887) [NAL]

Exhibition catalogues: National Art Library, London (1885-1887)


Collection of Pictures of Jan Van Beers. London: Cochrane & Mertens, 1885.

Fletcher, Pamela and Anne Helmreich. “Selected galleries, dealers and exhibition spaces in London, 1850-1939.” In The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London, 1850-1939. Eds. Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011, 310.

*The dates that appear in the heading are those identified as securely documented “start” and “end” dates when the map animation was created. Additional research has altered the time span that the gallery can be documented at this address.

How to cite:
Pamela Fletcher and David Israel, London Gallery Project, 2007; Revised September 2012.

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