A Brief History of the Salon
While the term "salon" wasn't coined until two centuries later, the first salons can be traced to the early 17th century, when French aristocrat Madame Catherine de Rambouillet's salon room became an intellectual hub for the Parisian intelligentsia to discuss social, political, artistic, and literary topics. The earliest salons were more informal and focused on entertainment, often featuring games and other light-hearted activities.
By the 18th century, the salon had developed into a more refined experience in light of the political revolutions on the rise across Western Europe and the then–New World.
These salons discussed everything from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (the French were on the brink of their revolution) to the future of art.
The innovative minds paving the way in the New World, like Benjamin Franklin, who often joined these salon discussions in Paris, and burgeoning creatives of the day like Victor Hugo.