Similarly, in Japan , it coincided with the Meiji era. The defeat of Boulanger, and the celebrations tied to the World's Fair in Paris, launched an era of optimism and affluence. French imperialism was in its prime. It was a cultural center of global influence, its educational, scientific and medical institutions were at the leading edge of Europe. It was not entirely the reality of life in Paris or in France, however. The Casino de Paris opened in For Paris' less affluent public, entertainment was provided by cabarets , bistros and music halls. The Moulin Rouge cabaret is a Paris landmark still open for business today.
Liane de Pougy , dancer, socialite and courtesan , was well known in Paris as a headline performer at top cabarets. The Can-can dance was a popular 19th-century cabaret style that appears in Toulouse-Lautrec's posters from the era. The Eiffel Tower , built to serve as the grand entrance to the World's Fair held in Paris, became the accustomed symbol of the city, to its inhabitants and to visitors from around the world.
Paris hosted another successful World's Fair in , the Exposition Universelle. Paris had been profoundly changed by the French Second Empire reforms to the city's architecture and public amenities.
Haussmann's renovation of Paris changed its housing, street layouts, and green spaces. Cheap coal and cheap labor contributed to the cult of the orchid  and made possible the perfection of fruits grown under glass , as the apparatus of state dinners extended to the upper classes.
The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque was a period of Western history. It is conventionally dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in to the. Paris in the Belle Époque was a period in the history of the city between the years to , from the beginning of the Third French Republic until the First.
In Paris, restaurants such as Maxim's Paris achieved a new splendor and cachet as places for the rich to parade. Maxim's Paris was arguably the city's most exclusive restaurant. Bohemian lifestyles gained a different glamour, pursued in the cabarets of Montmartre. After the midth century, railways linked all the major cities of Europe to spa towns like Biarritz , Deauville , Vichy , Arcachon and the French Riviera. Their carriages were rigorously divided into first-class and second-class, but the super-rich now began to commission private railway coaches , as exclusivity as well as display was a hallmark of opulent luxury.
The years between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I were characterized by unusual political stability in western and central Europe. Although tensions between the French and German governments persisted as a result of the French loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in , diplomatic conferences, including the Congress of Berlin in , the Berlin Congo Conference in , and the Algeciras Conference in , mediated disputes that threatened the general European peace.
An upper-class gentleman could travel through much of Western Europe without a passport and even reside abroad with minimal bureaucratic regulation. The Paris Metro underground railway system joined the omnibus and streetcar in transporting the working population, including those servants who did not live in the wealthy centers of cities.
One result of this commuting was suburbanization allowing working-class and upper-class neighborhoods to be separated by large distances. The most notable transnational socialist organization was the Second International. Anarchists of different affiliations were active during the period leading up to World War I. A bomb was detonated in the Chamber of Deputies of France in , causing injuries but no deaths. The most serious political issue to face the country during this period was the Dreyfus Affair.
Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly convicted of treason, with fabricated evidence from French government officials. Anti-Semitism directed at Dreyfus, and tolerated by the general French public in everyday society, was a central issue in the controversy and the court trials that followed.
The Dreyfus Affair consumed the interest of the French for several years and it received heavy newspaper coverage. European politics saw very few regime changes, the major exception being Portugal , which experienced a republican revolution in However, tensions between working-class socialist parties, bourgeois liberal parties, and landed or aristocratic conservative parties did increase in many countries, and it has been claimed that profound political instability belied the calm surface of European politics in the era. Additionally, this era was one of massive overseas colonialism , known as the New Imperialism.
The most famous portion of this imperial expansion was the Scramble for Africa.
Inventions of the Second Industrial Revolution that became generally common in this era include the perfection of lightly sprung, noiseless carriages in a multitude of new fashionable forms, which were superseded towards the end of the era by the automobile , which was for its first decade a luxurious experiment for the well-heeled. Edouard Michelin invented removable pneumatic tires for bicycles and automobiles in the s.
A number of French inventors patented products with a lasting impact on modern society. The electric light began to supersede gas lighting , and neon lights were invented in France. France was a leader of early cinema technology. It was during this era that the motion pictures were developed, though these did not become common until after World War I. Although the aeroplane remained a fascinating experiment, France was a leader in aviation. France established the world's first national air force in Two French inventors, Louis Breguet and Paul Cornu , made independent experiments with the first flying helicopters in Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in while working with phosphorescent materials.
It was during this era that biologists and physicians finally came to understand the germ theory of disease , and the field of bacteriology was established. Louis Pasteur was perhaps the most famous scientist in France during this time. Pasteur developed pasteurisation and a rabies vaccine. Physicist Gabriel Lippmann invented integral imaging , still in use today. In , Vincent van Gogh died.
It was during the s that his paintings achieved the admiration that had eluded them during Van Gogh's life, first among other artists, then gradually among the public. Between and , Expressionism took hold of many artists in Paris and Vienna. Early works of Cubism and Abstraction were exhibited.
Foreign influences were being strongly felt in Paris as well. Exhibits of African tribal art also captured the imagination of Parisian artists at the turn of the 20th century. Art Nouveau is the most popularly recognized art movement to emerge from the period. This largely decorative style Jugendstil in central Europe , characterized by its curvilinear forms, and nature inspired motifs became prominent from the mids and dominated progressive design throughout much of Europe. More modern forms in sculpture also began to dominate as in the works of Paris-native Auguste Rodin. In , Monet started his series Haystacks.
Impressionism, which had been considered the artistic avant-garde in the s, did not gain widespread acceptance until after World War I. The academic painting style, associated with the Academy of Art in Paris, remained the most respected style among the public in Paris.
More progressive tastes patronized the Barbizon school plein-air painters. These painters were associates of the Pre-Raphaelites, who inspired a generation of esthetic-minded " Souls ". Literary realism and naturalism achieved new heights. Monet and Impressionism, certainly.
Toulouse-Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge, perhaps. We think of the art of anxiety and angst, of drama and febrile tension, of an acute sense of alienation. View image of Credit: www. Or perhaps our thoughts turn to the young and eccentric English illustrator and printmaker Aubrey Beardsley and his darkly erotic, sinuous vixens — exotic femme fatales who could captivate and destroy any man. Or we might even think of an artist who is currently being shown at the Royal Academy in London : the brilliant Belgian painter James Ensor, whose rich palette glows with Rubenesque colours but whose subject matter is dark and satirical: skulls and skeletons and eerie masks, all representing the corruption at the heart of bourgeois society.
Or, in fact, we might even return to Gauguin, who in some ways became a figurehead for these disquieting forces at the end of the century. Ensor grew up above a curio shop in the cold, coastal town of Ostend, where his mother sold trinkets, costumes and grotesque carnival masks to tourists. At first Ensor painted in a loosely Impressionist style, but he retained his childhood fascination with these masks and was soon incorporating them into his work.
His favourite motif became that of the surging crowd, where ossified faces are leering, threatening masks that overwhelm the whole picture. For Ensor these props seemed to provide the perfect metaphor for the hypocrisies of polite society. In one painting, The Intrigue, , which forms the centrepiece of the Royal Academy exhibition, a group of grotesques with barely human faces congregate in a bizarre wedding group, the aged bride and her ghoulish top-hatted groom grotesquely inverting family and Christian values to be found in the embodiment of the marriage ritual.
Surrounded by a swarm of terrifying masks, he stares out at us with a stern and frank gaze. Is he accusing us of some unspecified crime against him, or simply imploring us to bear witness to his suffering? His fraught paintings bristle with humour and are all the more vivid for that.
So why did artists revel in such outward expressions of unease and dislocation? This was a rejection of the idea that progress and reason, ideas which intellectuals had embraced and promoted since the 18th Century as Enlightenment ideals, could sustain the spirit. But perhaps, in a way, these were also anxieties exacerbated by the end of any century. It might sound a trivial connection, but in our own age we might think back to the alarm over the Millennium Bug, where people actually imagined planes falling out of the sky due to programs having accommodated only two digits instead of four computers would think, when the hour struck, they were back in It signalled a deeper anxiety that is perennial: our inability to know and control our own destinies.
Where Do We Come From?