Literary Salon

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The Literary Drawing Room of Madame Geoffrin (1755)

A literary salon was a mostly private social meeting place for discussions, readings or musical events from the 18th to the 20th century. In addition to literary and other artistic salons, there were also political ( Spitzemberg , Treuberg ) and scientific ( Helmholtz ) salons. Sponsors included individual patrons or associations . Above all, wealthy and educated women, often of noble origin, acted as hostesses and were called salonnière in this capacity .


The forerunners of the early modern salons can be seen in the courts of the muses of Isabella d'Este or Emperor Friedrich II . In France, a style-defining salon culture was found as early as 1600 under the conditions of absolutism and the civilizational counter-movement after the brutalization of the Huguenot wars . The departure of the aristocracy from their rural dominions into the sphere of influence of the king promoted the emergence of aesthetic circles in Paris, which saw themselves as an expression of the new culture of conviviality . Numerous aristocratic palaces were built in Paris and, in exchange for bourgeois lifestyles, transformed into literary salons or the more intimate ruelle ("little room"); so-called preciousness was considered the highest or exaggerated expression of the cultural refinement of the time . The salon served the free exchange of ideas, regardless of class and gender barriers, and promoted the Enlightenment . Philosophers like Voltaire or Diderot frequented the Paris salons and there prepared the ground for the French Revolution .

In 18th-century Germany, the literary salon came into fashion as a place for bourgeois socializing, originally in imitation of court manners . The " Weimar Musenhof " had been idealized since the late 19th century, but the nobility tended to withdraw from the activities of the commoners. The early romantic salons became famous , for example Caroline Schelling 's Jena salon and Rahel Varnhagen 's Berlin salon . In the Biedermeier period , they were signs of a bourgeois retreat into the private sphere. These salons often served to promote young talents in literature and music. The meetings of friends around Franz Schubert in Vienna in the 1820s were a kind of musical-literary salon , the so-called “ Schubertiaden ”. After the First World War , they went out of fashion or became part of a fashionable entertainment culture. With formats such as the Kunstsalon Köln and the international SalonFestival, the commitment is revived through readings, musical events and discussions in the private houses of the cities.

Salons in the Danish language area

Salons in German-speaking countries

Bettina von Arnim
Ludwig Doell : Julie von Bechtolsheim, 1817
Henriette Herz, 1823
Elise Hohenhausen Ruediger
Fanny Lewald
Sophia of La Roche
Marianne von Werefkin, self-portrait 1910
Fanny von Arnstein
Maria Theresa Paradis, 1784
Madame de Scudery
Portrait of Madame de Staël as Corinne (by Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun)
Madeleine Lemaire
Natalie Barney
Gertrude Stein
Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi
Avdotya Panayeva
Mrs. Reginald (Daisy) Fellowes (by John Singer Sargent)

Salons in French-speaking countries

English salons and coffee houses

Italian salons

Polish salons

Russian salons

Swedish salons

Spanish salons

American salons

More lounges

See also


web links


  1. Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve portrayed French salon culture in a masterly fashion : People of the XVIII. century. Translated by Ida Overbeck, initiated by Friedrich Nietzsche. Newly edited by Andreas Urs Sommer with newly discovered notes by Ida Overbeck . The Other Library, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-8477-0355-6 .
  2. Idea and Goal , on