In 1948, the seventh Olympic Art Competitions took place in London. The fact that such artistic competitions were conceptualized by Pierre de Coubertin and formed part in the Olympic program in the first half of the twentieth century is not commonly known. And although international sport historians researched different aspects of the Olympic Art Competitions since the 1980s, they have not sufficiently addressed possible artistic influences for such a concept and therefore treat them as a matter of fact. Particularly the fact that Pierre’s father, Charles Louis Frédy de Coubertin (1822–1908), had been a famous painter at his time is overlooked up to now. This article traces the artistic background of the father and illustrates how his profession as Fine Art Salon painter influenced Pierre de Coubertin’s concept of the Olympic Art Competitions. Subsequently, the paper compares organizational elements of the Fine Art Salons with those of the Olympic Art Competitions and unveils interesting parallels. Concerning the sources used, this article draws on art history sources as well as on unpublished material which was discovered in the archives of the descendants of the Coubertin family.
October 16, 2022