DP17778 Measuring Nepotism and Sexism in Artistic Recognition: The Awarding of Medals at the Paris Salon, 1850 - 1880
From the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, the Paris Salon was the leading visual arts exhibition venue in France. For an artist, having a painting admitted to the Salon was a good signal; obtaining one of the competitive medals systematically awarded at the exhibition was even better. Based on two unique datasets, this paper quantitatively analyzes which elements drove the likelihood of winning a medal. Both in its own time and the secondary literature about the exhibition, the juried Salon system has often been criticized for being prejudiced. Our paper shows the changes in the way the jury acted as rules and regulations varied over time, adding a dynamic dimension to our analysis. We find that nepotism, proxied here as having one’s master sit on the jury, helped win medals, but this was not systematically the case. The hierarchy of genres setting history paintings at the top was not always respected. By contrast, women were systematically discriminated against. Even for the minor genres, in which many were forced to specialize, medals were more likely to end up being won by men.