The French developed the whole notion of the elistist academy art as we know it today. One of its initiatives was an annual exhibit called ‘salon’. Here was the opportunity for the academy artist to mount works of painting and sculpture deemed the finest quality by the academy. This was later termed Académie de Beaux-Arts.
The system was far from infallable, in that the judges of good taste increasingly were considered conservative, and ended up not allowing emerging talent to become noticed. In the 19th century it drove many artists (e.g. the impressionists) to create rival salons.