In 1852, Philippe de Chennevières, an inspector of provincial museums and in charge of exhibitions by living artists, commissioned Le Gray to produce an album of the Salon which was being held, for the second time at the Palais-Royal. This view is taken from a copy of this album which consists of nine plates.
The photograph presented here is the second plate of the album. All the paintings can be identified, but we shall refer to the clearest ones. On the top row, the two large paintings are respectively: on the left, Tout passe [Everything must pass] by Omer-Charlet (1809-1882); on the right, Satan struck by lightning by Charles Lefebvre (1827-?). At the bottom, between two small landscapes by Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), there is an oval portrait of a woman, signed by Ange Tissier (1814-1876).
In the centre of the middle row is The Village Girls by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), a painting now kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In the eighth plate of the album, however, this same painting is hung in the gallery on the first floor. In fact, article 12 of the rules of the Salon provided for "a closure of five days to enable works to be re-positioned". It is possible that the painting owned by Count Morny, a prominent collector, had first been placed in the main hall; then, following negative reviews in the press, moved to one side when the exhibition was rehung!