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Impressionism is synonymous with pictures of everyday life in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Sisley and Caillebotte are among the Impressionists that produced colourful paintings of real life, as they saw it. Their art-works are a celebration of the visual pleasures of daily life, food, fashion, beauty and health.  You generally do not find poverty, death, illness, or war in impressionist paintings.




Art inspired discussions of Impressionists focus on brush techniques and bold use of colours. The Tate Gallery’s online guide to art tells us that instead of painting in a studio, the Impressionists found that they could capture the momentary and transient effects of sunlight by working quickly, in front of their subjects, in the open air rather than in a studio. This resulted in a greater awareness of light and colour and the shifting pattern of the natural scene. Brushwork became rapid and broken into separate dabs in order to render the fleeting quality of light. The methods and choice of locations convey images of tranquillity, order, confidence and self-assurance.


Here are some examples of Paris as seen by Impressionist artists in the 1870s 

Impressionist Approach to Art

Oarsmen at Chatou, Renoir, 1879



(link via name for more information)


Frédéric Bazille  (1841–1870)



Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894)



Mary Cassatt (American-born who lived in Paris) (1844–1926)



Paul Cézanne (broke away from the Impressionists) (1839–1906)



Edgar Degas  (1834–1917)

Armand Guillaumin (1841–1927)



Édouard Manet  (1832–1883)



Claude Monet (1840–1926)



Berthe Morisot  (1841–1895)



Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)



Pierre-Auguste Renoir  (1841–1919)



Alfred Sisley (1839–1899)


Paris in 1871- The Reality

The Paris of the Impressionists is juxtaposed against the photographs taken in 1871 - the year of the Paris Commune.


Hundreds of photographs were taken of the Paris Commune.


Some were by photographers sympathetic to the Communards.


Others were commissioned by the Versailles Government for state propaganda purposes.


They reflect the techniques and capability of photographic equipment available in the 1870s.


The images provide another view of Paris in the early 1870s.


Here is a link to a library of contemporary photographs

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