Women, Walking, Crowds and Capitalism: Modernity depicted through art in nineteenth century Paris

Michelle La

This piece was written for VIS18 – Historical Issues in Art and Design, analysing the depiction of modernity in French Impressionism. Images used in the essay have been replaced with hyperlinks to the relevant image.

Commencing in 1852, the city of Paris with its fast increasing population of almost 1.5 million people, underwent a substantial rebuilding process, which transformed the disorganised medieval capital into a modern urban city  (Kleiner 2010, Gandy 1999). The rebuilding authorised by Napoleon III and overseen by Georges Haussmann, saw the demolition of thousands of buildings to pave the way for wider roads, new water and sewerage systems, street lighting and modern buildings (Kleiner 2010). This large-scale reconstruction can be referred to as “Haussmanization” and it resulted in a new urban and social landscape for Paris and its inhabitants (Gandy 1999). The new urbanisation combined with the focus in art on Realism manifested itself into Impressionist…

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