Salons

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Nordic salon culture flourished during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the female hostess playing a dominant role. She created a committed and focused discussion forum for her contemporary male artists, intellectuals, diplomats, and patrons of the arts, on whom she was also dependent – the success of a salon was proportional to the number of its celebrated participants. The salon set the trends, and had an influential status in cultural life.

The salon hostess was considered a singular figure in her day. For a while she had the opportunity to take part in the arts, the culture and the politics – not on her own terms, however, nor on an equal footing with the men. Despite modest coverage in the history of literature, the salon hostess was a creative artist. Her preferred genres were the intimate conversation, letter, diary, memoir, portrait profile, and poetry. The most outstanding salon hostesses in the Nordic region included the Swede Malla Silfverstolpe and the Danes Kamma Rahbek, Friederike Brun, and Charlotte Schimmelmann.

Carl Johan Ljunggren, <em>Scener ur Sällskapslivet</em>. 1830'erne. Akvarel.