Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : This essay describes a novel dataset that facilitates the quantitative analysis of eighteenth and nineteenth-century French painting. Based on titles listed in the Paris Salon livrets, the dataset assigns detailed keywords indicating the content for each of the more than 148,000 paintings shown at the Salon—the principal French art exhibition of the era—from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. To demonstrate the interest and utility of this dataset, we present a case study about a genre that has traditionally been neglected by both art historians and cultural economists: portraiture. Our analysis shows portraiture was ubiquitous, usually representing 27% of all paintings exhibited in a year—more than any other genre. We also trace the changing demographics of sitters. There were, for example, dramatic increases over time in how many images of women were displayed. We also chart the rise of quasi-anonymous portraiture, where names of sitters do not appear in paintings’ titles but audiences from certain social classes could identify subjects. We ultimately demonstrate how quantitative methods can be fruitfully applied to this art historical dataset, which is now available freely online, and is just one of many similar datasets that can be digitized and studied.