Paris earned the enduring nickname la ville lumière during the second half of the 19th century, when gas lamps gradually began to light up the city’s dark medieval streets. Authors, composers, and especially visual artists—painters, photographers, printmakers, and sculptors—thrived in this dazzling milieu. This richly illustrated catalogue explores diverse aspects of life in the city in which Impressionism was born.
Approximately 100 prints, drawings, photographs, and paintings offer an unforgettable tour of the cultural capital of the 19th century, from the dim alleys of “Old Paris” to the grand boulevards of the Second Empire. Readers are transported to Paris via views of the city, from panoramas to picturesque details, by Pierre Bonnard, Charles Marville, Jean-François Raffaëlli, and Édouard Vuillard. Works by Honoré Daumier and Édouard Manet convey key historical events and underscore the newfound power of the press. Prints and drawings by Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, and Camille Pissarro provide an expanded view of the Impressionist movement beyond the medium of painting, while Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and James Tissot offer colorful images of the theater, the circus, and other forms of popular entertainment. The journey concludes with a selection of vibrant turn-of-the-century posters by Jules Chéret, Alphonse Mucha, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others.
James A. Ganz is curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His publications include The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings and Edouard Baldus at the Château de La Faloise; contributions to The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Painting and Bonjour Monsieur Courbet! Masterpieces from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier; and articles in Master Drawings, Print Quarterly, and Burlington Magazine.