Exhibition at the museum

Paris at the time of the Impressionists, 1848-1914. Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay at the Hôtel de Ville

From April 12th to July 30th, 2011 -
Paris, Hôtel de Ville
Map & itinerary
Jean-Louis Forain-Au café de la Nouvelle Athènes
Jean-Louis Forain
Au café de la Nouvelle Athènes, 1892
Paris, musée d'Orsay, conservé au département des Arts Graphiques du musée du Louvre
Legs de Carle Dreyfus, 1953
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi / DR

The new Paris, and the life it created, was at the centre of artistic preoccupations from 1850 to 1914. Haussmann's city provided artists with new motifs. It led them to a different view of urban life, expressed, by the greatest of them, through new and original methods of pictorial expression. Their perception and interpretation of the city changed: they depicted Paris as a fluid, shifting entity, abandoning their studies of monuments and events, and seeking out the "marvellous in modern life", that urban poetry proclaimed by Baudelaire. The transformation of the city turned the lives of its inhabitants upside-down; cafés and cafés-concerts, brasseries, dances, circuses, operas and theatres, parks and gardens and race meetings proliferated, providing many themes for artists in search of that "mysterious, involuntary beauty " left behind by people's lives...
Jongkind and Lépine, Manet and Degas, Monet and Renoir, Caillebotte and Pissarro were all passionate about Parisian life and about the city itself, highlighting its modernity. Gauguin and Van Gogh, Signac, Luce, and later Bonnard and Vuillard, also explored it, sometimes looking at life beneath the city as excavations for the first metro lines started in 1900. During the same period, other artists took an interest the social life of the upper classes in the gilded settings of their private mansions. The ballroom scenes and society portraits by Béraud, De Nittis, Boldini and Blanche thus provided a counterpoint to the images of working class favoured by the avant-garde movements of the time.

The exhibition is now over.

See the whole program