Tag Archives: Paris 1900

Paris Fashion 1900

The Paris 1900 exhibit had delicious examples of the all-important art of dressing–always a priority for the French.  No wonder women who could afford it traveled from England and America just to buy their wardrobes.


I loved this dress, just the thing for attracting admiring glances–and filling up one’s dance card–at a ball. I can hear the music!


Fine leather boots would look fetching while stepping out of a carriage.


An elegant skirt and ruffled blouse, maybe for entertaining in one’s Paris town-home. The sinuous curving lines of Art Nouveau were not just for furniture.  Women delighted in wearing Art Nouveau.

The Belle Epoque–what an era!

Join me next time for more explorations into the art and history of Europe!


An Evening in Paris



At the “Paris 1900” exhibition in April of this year, I admired this wall-sized painting of an elegant evening from days gone by. It was painted by Henri Gervex in 1909. The title is “Une Soiree au Pre Catalan.” It depicts guests at a celebrated restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne.


Some of them are recognizable: the duke of Talleyrand-Perigord and his rich American wife, Anna Gould. It must have seemed to these privileged people that there was no good reason that life as they knew it would not continue indefinitely. But in just a few short years, the First World War would wreak havoc on the lives of all, including the most privileged.

This painting is from the Musee Carnavalet in Paris, one of the stellar free sights of Paris. I have never seen it crowded. I’d head to the Carnavalet right now if I found myself in the summer crowds of Paris, having just read that so many people are picnicking on the grounds of the Louvre and the Tuileries that large rats are appearing in daylight to scavenge food.  The hushed corridors and quiet galleries of the Carnavalet  are  housed in a Renaissance mansion that has its own history.  A visit gives a glorious overview of the history of Paris. This particular painting will not be there right now, but anyone interested in art and history will find plenty of treasures to contemplate.

Join me next time for more explorations into the art and history of Europe!



Paris: Sin City 1900

P1900PosterOne of the best reasons to travel to Paris is to take in the special exhibits. This past April, I loved the exhibit called “Paris 1900” at the very grand Petit Palais. In 1900, a huge exhibition occupied 500 acres along the Seine River, at the same time that the very first line of the Metro opened.  The exhibition was a celebration of Paris as THE world center of art, innovation, technology, and above all entertainment. Entertainment in Paris 1900 ran the gamut from sublime theater performances to dance halls to houses of prostitution, tailored to all segments of society.

Annoyingly, all the exhibit captions were in French only.  I had to call on my translating skills, which are pretty good but not great. There was an audioguide, but I was short on time.  (When is there ever enough time in Paris?)

"Redemption," Public Domain

“Redemption,” Public Domain

A gorgeous large painting by Julius LeBlanc Stewart poignantly depicts the intersection of high life and low life in the fast-and-loose period known as the Belle Epoque. The title is “Redemption,” painted in 1895. Stewart was an American.  Along with his fellow American, the more well-known John Singer Sargent, he made a nice living doing portraits of society figures. This is a genre painting, on the theme of the repentant prostitute.


A beautiful young girl, dressed in white, stands alone at one end of a dinner table–or rather, probably a table set for supper during a ball. Will this girl make an advantageous marriage?  Or possibly she already has escaped her former life, and hopes she will not be found out. She looks vulnerable, ready to flee.



At the other end of the table, a portly gentleman is working on seducing a bare-shouldered woman.  She holds him off with one hand–but for how long?

Join me next time for more explorations into the art and history of Europe!