Monet's 1873 canvas Boulevard Des Capucines was a dynamic reproduction of city-life in the late XIX century when the rapidly modernizing forces of French industrial capitalism were both destroying and quickly reinventing the concept of social space.
Monet's group of like-minded painters, the Impressionists, placed precedence in the artist's visual and experiential interpretation of what was before them. In a world so rapidly changing their canvases were characterized by the movement of life and time across seemingly static subjects and beings. In Boulevard Des Capucines Monet deals with a subject familiar to the Impressionists and carries a theme also addressed in Auguste Renoir's 1872 canvas Le Pont Neuf Paris.
At the time of painting the ancient city was being transformed by what became known as the Haussmanization of Paris, named after the controversial urban planner Baron Von Haussmann. Tired of the crumbling buildings and winding alleys that were tricky to attack whenever a barricade spring up, Emperor Napoleon III modernized the cluster of streets into the orderly and epic tree-lined boulevards we know today.
Monet's atmospheric perspective highlights the blurring of individuals with their cold, emotionless surroundings, fusing into a cacophony of light, sound, and movement. Boulevard Des Capucines portrays the frenetic pace of urban Paris and captures the wildly divergent and unequal conditions of modernity. Painted from the window of the renowned photographer Nadar's studio, Monet's impressionistic reproduction embodies the fragmentary experience of a bustling street, segmenting the blur of movement with sharp brushwork. The cold atmosphere of a city’s winter day is captured with Monet’s choice of color palette. The white-blue sky is still, contrasting to the busy street.
The decentralized perspective takes influence from Japanese woodcut prints like that of the artist Hiroshige that would influence much of late XIX century art. Comparable to a single frame of a shot filmed with a mobile camera, Monet himself seems to be in a state of movement and flux – almost as if he is moving his viewpoint between brush-strokes. This monumental work of pre-modernism reflects the truly visionary work of the Impressionist movement. This masterpiece is an example of the influence photography had on art – especially painting. Although the rise of photography made artists realize they did not need to paint in a realistic manner, for technology could do that, they also found some aesthetic qualities of photography interesting, reproducing that in their work.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
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