The avant-garde: Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

Courbet, Manet, Degas, and van Gogh used subjective experience to invent new ways to see.

Art and the French state

Despite the brief dismantling of the Royal Academy during the French Revolution, art remained an extension of the power of the French State which regularly purchased art that it favored (often art that supported its political objectives). Through the Royal Academy (originally been founded by Louis XIV), the state extended its reach to the official exhibitions (salons) and to matters of style and subject matter through the École des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts). These were not just the official institutions of art, they were, in essence, the only institutions available for living artists to train and to make their work known. This tutorial looks at a crucial moment for painting, on the eve of the Revolution of 1848. We also examine one of the great State commissions of the Second Empire, the Opera House.
Article
Haussmann the Demolisher and the Creation of Modern Paris
4:49
Garnier, Paris Opéra
Charles Garnier, The Paris Opéra, 1860-75
Article
Garnier, Paris Opéra
5:46
Couture, Romans of the Decadence
Thomas Couture, Romans of the Decadence, 1847 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris & Dr. Steven Zucker For more art history videos visit smarthistory.org
Exercise
Couture, Romans of the Decadence
Test your knowledge on this painting.
Exercise
Art and the French State
Test your knowledge!

Realism

In the mid-Nineteenth Century, great art was still defined as art that took it’s subjects from religion, history or mythology and its style from ancient Greece and Rome. Hardly what we would consider modern and appropriate for an industrial, commercial, urban culture! Courbet agreed, and so did his friend, the writer Charles Baudelaire who called for an art that would depict, as he called it, the beauty of modern life. Courbet painted the reality of life in the countryside—not the idealized peasants that were the usual fare at the exhibits in Paris. The revolution of 1848, in which both the working class and the middle class played a significant role, set the stage for Realism. Later, Manet and then Degas painted modern life in Paris, a city which was undergoing rapid modernization in the period after 1855 (the Second Empire).
Article
A beginner's guide to Realism
6:24
Courbet, Burial at Ornans
Gustave Courbet, A Burial at Ornans, begun late summer 1849, completed 1850, exhibited at the Salon of 1850-51, 124 x 260 inches, oil on canvas (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
Article
Courbet, The Stonebreakers
5:25
Courbet, The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life
Gustave Courbet, The Artist's Studio; A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life, oil on canvas, 1854-55 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
Article
Courbet, The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life
Article
Courbet, Bonjour Monsieur Courbet
3:29
Bonheur, Plowing in the Nivernais
Rosa Bonheur, Plowing in the Nivernais (or The First Dressing), oil on canvas, 1849 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
2:25
Bonheur, Sheep in the Highlands
Rosa Bonheur, Sheep in the Highlands, 1857, oil on canvas, 46 x 65 cm (Wallace Collection, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker The Wallace Collection suggests that this painting is likely the result of a trip that the artist made to Scotland the previous year.
2:25
Millet, L'Angelus
Jean-François Millet (French), L'Angélus, c. 1857-1859, oil on canvas, 21 x 26 (53.3 × 66.0 cm) (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Drs. Beth Harris and Steven Zucker For more art history videos, visit Smarthistory.org
3:49
Millet, The Gleaners
Jean-François Millet (French), The Gleaners, 1857, oil on canvas, 33 x 43 in (83.5 x 110 cm) (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Drs. Beth Harris and Steven Zucker 
Article
Manet, Music in the Tuileries Gardens
7:14
Manet, Olympia
Édouard Manet, Olympia, oil on canvas, 1863 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker   Édouard Manet brought to Realism his curiosity about social mores. However, he was not interested in mirroring polite parlor conversations and middle class promenades in the Bois de  Boulogne (Paris’ Central Park). Rather, Manet invented subjects that set the Parisians’ teeth on edge.  In 1865, Manet submitted his risqué painting of a courtesan greeting her client (in this case, you), Olympia, of 1863, to the French Salon. The jury for the 1865 Salon accepted this painting despite their disapproval of the subject matter, because two years earlier, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass created such a stir when it was rejected from the Salon. (It was instead exhibited in Emperor Napoleon III’s conciliatory exhibition—the Salon des Réfusés, or the Exhibition of the Refused. Crowds came to the Salon des Réfusés specifically to laugh and jeer at what they considered Manet’s folly.) Somehow they were afraid another rejection would seem like a personal attack on Manet himself. The reasoning was odd, but the result was the same—Olympia became infamous and the painting had to be hung very high to protect it from physical attacks.  Manet was a Realist, but sometimes his “real” situations shocked and rocked the Parisian art world to its foundations. His later work was much tamer. (Text by Dr. Beth Gersh-Nesic)
Exercise
Manet's Olympia Quiz
This quiz is for the video Manet, Olympia.
6:27
Manet, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe
Édouard Manet, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), oil on canvas, 1863 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
4:05
Manet, The Railway
Édouard Manet, The Railway,1872-73, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker
Article
Manet, The Railway
4:34
Manet, Émile Zola
Édouard Manet, Émile Zola, 1868, oil on canvas, 57 x 45 inches or 146.5 x 114 cm (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) This portrait was painted in appreciation for the support Zola gave to Manet in his 1866 essay in La Revue du XXe siècle and during Manet's independent exhibition held along side the Universal Exposition in 1867.
4:02
Manet, The Balcony
Édouard Manet, The Balcony, 1868-69, oil on canvas, 66-1/2 x 44-1/4 inches (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Drs. Beth Harris and Steven Zucker The three principal figures depicted were each friends of the artist. From left to right they are: the painters Berthe Morisot and Jean Baptiste Antoine Guillemet, and Fanny Claus, a violinist. Some have suggested that the fourth figure, barely visible in the shadows, is the young Leon Leenhoff, the son of Manet's wife.
2:36
Manet, Plum Brandy
Édouard Manet, Plum Brandy, c. 1877, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker, Dr. Beth Harris
3:25
Manet, In the Conservatory
Edouard Manet, In the Conservatory, 1878-1879, oil on canvas, 115 x 150 cm (Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
10:35
Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882 (Courtauld Gallery, London) Speakers: Beth Harris and Steven Zucker For more videos see www.smarthistory.org
3:44
Manet, Corner of a Café-Concert
Edouard Manet, Corner of a Café-Concert, 1878-80, 97.1 x 77.5 cm (National Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
Article
Eva Gonzàles, A Loge at the Théâtre des Italiens
Exercise
Realism
Test your knowledge!

Impressionism

Impressionism is both a style and the name of a group of artists who did something radical—in 1874 they banded together and held their own independent exhibition. These artists described, in fleeting sensations of light, the new leisure pastimes of the city and its suburbs. It’s hard to imagine, but at this time in France, the only place of consequence that artists could exhibit their work was the official government-sanctioned exhibitions (called salons), held just once a year, and controlled by a conservative jury. The Impressionists painted modern Paris and landscapes with a loose open brushstrokes, bright colors, and unconventional compositions—none of which was appreciated by the salon jury!
Article
A beginner's guide to Impressionism
Article
How the Impressionists got their name
4:02
Degas, The Bellelli Family
Edgar Degas, The Bellelli Family, 1858-67, oil on canvas, 78-3/4 x 98-1/2 inches, 200 x 250 cm (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Degas was in his mid-twenties when he painted this canvas. It depicts from left to right, the ten-year-old Giovanna, her mother, the artist's paternal aunt Laura, her younger daughter, Giula age 7, and the Baron Gennaro Bellelli. Preperatory sketches for the painting may have been made in Florence where the family was living—the Baron had been exiled from Naples. The picture may have been completed in Paris.
3:52
Degas, At the Races in the Countryside
Edgar Degas, At the Races in the Countryside, 1869, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 55.9 cm / 14-3/8 x 22 inches (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
5:09
Degas, The Dance Class
Edgar Degas, The Dance Class, oil on canvas, 1874 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker, Dr. Beth Harris
5:25
Degas, Visit to a Museum
Edgar Degas, Visit to a Museum, c. 1879--90, oil on canvas, 91.8 x 68 cm / 36-1/8 x 26-3/4 inches (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
4:27
Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers
Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers (Les raboteurs de parquet), 1875, oil on canvas, 102 x 146.5 cm (Musée d'Orsay, Paris). Speakers: Dr. Parmi Giuntini, Director of Art History, Otis College of Art and Design and Dr. Robert Summers, lecturer, Otis College of Art and Design
4:44
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877, oil on canvas 83-1/2 x 108-3/4 inches / 212.2 x 276.2 cm (The Art Institute of Chicago).  View this work up close on the Google Art Project.
4:16
Caillebotte, Man at his Bath
Gustave Caillebotte, Man at his Bath, 1884, oil on canvas, 57 x 45 in. (144.8 x 114.3 cm), (Private Collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Parme Giuntini, Director of Art History, Otis College of Art and Design Dr. Robert Summers, Lecturer, Otis College of Art and Design
4:33
Cassatt, In the Loge
Mary Cassatt, In the Loge, 1878, oil on canvas, 81.28 x 66.04 cm / 32 x 26 inches (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker In nineteenth century France, the gaze of the observer—whether on Napoleon's grand new boulevards or in the opera—was very much structured by issues of economic status. Mary Cassatt's remarkable painting In the Loge (c. 1878-79) clearly shows the complex relationship between the gaze, public spectacle, gender, and class privilege. Cassatt was a wealthy American artist who had adopted the style of the Impressionists while living in Paris. Here she depicts a fashionable upper-class woman in a box seat at the Paris opera (as it happens, the sitter is Cassatt's sister, Lydia). Lydia is shown holding opera glasses up to her eyes; but instead of tilting them down, as she would if she were watching the performance below, her gaze is level. She peers straight across the chamber perhaps at another member of the audience. Look closely and you will notice that, in turn, and in one of the boxes across the room, a gentleman is gazing at her. Lydia is then, in a sense, caught between his gaze and ours even as she spies another.
Article
Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair
5:10
Cassatt, Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge
Mary Cassatt, Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, 1879, oil on canvas, 32 x 23-1/2 inches or 81.3 x 59.7 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
3:27
Cassatt, The Loge
Mary Cassatt, The Loge, oil on canvas, 1882. 31-7/16 x 25-1/8 inches (National Gallery of Art) Speakers: Beth Harris and Steven Zucker
3:06
Cassatt, The Child's Bath
Mary Cassatt, The Child's Bath, 1893, oil on canvas, 100.3 x 66.1 cm / 39-1/2 x 26 inches (Art Institute of Chicago)
Article
Cassatt, The Coiffure
3:07
Cassatt, Breakfast in Bed
Mary Cassatt, Breakfast In Bed, 1897 (Huntington Library) Speakers: Beth Harris and Steven Zucker
3:25
Monet, The Argenteuil Bridge
Claude Monet, The Argenteuil Bridge, 1874, oil on canvas, 60.5 x 80 cm (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Drs. Beth Harris and Steven Zucker Please note that there is significant background chatter in this video. The Musée d'Orsay is happily a very busy museum and this painting is hung in a relatively small room. 
Article
Monet, The Gare Saint-Lazare
4:30
Monet, Cliff Walk at Pourville
Claude Monet, Cliff Walk at Pourville, 1882, oil on canvas, 26-1/8 x 32-7/16 inches / 66.5 x 82.3 cm (Art Institute of Chicago)
3:55
Monet, Poplars
Claude Monet, Poplars, 1891, oil on canvas, 36-5/8 x 29-3/16 inches / 93 x 74.1 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
3:54
Monet, Rouen Cathedral Series
Claude Monet​ painted more than 30 canvases depicting Rouen cathedral between 1892 and 1894. This video discusses the following four paintings in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris: Rouen Cathedral (The Portal, Grey Weather), 1894, oil on canvas, 100 x 65 cm Rouen Cathedral (The Portal and the Tour d'Albane, Morning Effect), 1894, oil on canvas, 106 x 73 cm Rouen Cathedral (The Portal, Harmony in Blue), 1894, oil on canvas, 91 x 63 cm, and Rouen Cathedral (The Portal and the Tour d'Albane in the Sunlight), 1894, oil on canvas, 107 x 73 cm Speakers: Drs. Beth Harris and Steven Zucker
6:22
Monet, Water Lilies
Claude Monet, Les Nymphéas (The Water Lilies), suite of paintings on permanent exhibition at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris: Room 1: Morning, oil on two canvas panels, 200 x 425 cm, c. 1918-26 Clouds, oil on three canvas panels, 200 x 1275 cm, c. 1918-26 Green Highlights, oil on two canvas panels, 200 x 850 cm, c. 1918-26 Sunset, oil on canvas, 200 x 600 cm, c. 1918-26 Room 2: Reflection of Trees, oil on two canvas panels, 200 x 850 cm, c. 1918-26 The Morning Light, the willows, oil on three canvas panels, 200 x 1275 cm, c. 1918-26 The Morning Willows, oil on three canvas panels, 200 x 1275 cm, c. 1918-26 The Two Willows, oil on four canvas panels, 200 x 1700 cm, c. 1918-26 Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
4:06
Renoir, La Loge
Pierre Auguste Renoir, La Loge, 1874, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 24 5/8 in. (80 x 63.5 cm) (Courtauld Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Rachel S. Ropeik This painting was exhibited by Renoir at the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris (1874).
5:46
Renoir, The Grands Boulevards
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Grands Boulevards, 1875, oil on canvas, 20-1/2 x 25 inches / 52.1 x 63.5 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
5:06
Renoir, Moulin de la Galette
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Moulin de la Galette, 1876, oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 68 7/8 in. (131 x 175 cm), (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris
6:16
Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party
Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-81, oil on canvas, 130.2 x 175.6 cm (Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
4:52
Renoir, The Large Bathers
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Large Bathers, 1884-87, oil on canvas, 46-3/8 x 67-1/4 inches / 117.8 x 170.8 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
3:36
Morisot, The Mother and Sister of the Artist
Berthe Morisot, The Mother and Sister of the Artist, c. 1869/1870, oil on canvas 39 3/4 x 32 3/16 in. (101 x 81.8 cm), (National Gallery of Art) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker http://smarthistory.org/morisots-mother-and-sister-of-the-artist.html
Exercise
Impressionism
Test your knowledge.

Post-Impressionism

The work of van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Seurat together constitute Post-Impressionism and yet their work is so varied and unrelated, we might never otherwise think of these four artists as a group. Certainly van Gogh and Gauguin were friends and they briefly painted together, but each of these artists was concerned with solving particular issues that had to do with their own individual sensibility. Ironically, if anything ties these artists together it is this focus on subjectivity. This tutorial explores the sketchy multiperspectival views of Cézanne, Seurat’s systematized critiques of upper middle-class Paris, Gauguin’s fascination with the primitive and exotic, and van Gogh’s unerring ability to convey deeply human experiences.
6:26
Seurat, Bathers at Asnières
Georges Seurat, Bathers at Asnières, 1884, oil on canvas, 6.6 x 9.8 ft (National Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker
6:43
Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884, 1884-86, oil on canvas, 81-3/4 x 121-1/4 inches / 207.5 x 308.1 cm (The Art Institute of Chicago). In the Google Art project: http://www.googleartproject.com/collection/the-art-institute-of-chicago/artwork/a-sunday-on-la-grande-jatte-1884-georges-seurat/609033/
2:49
Van Gogh, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin
Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin, 1888, oil on canvas, 24 x 19-11/16 inches (Fogg, Harvard Art Museums) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. This self portrait was painted for Paul Gauguin as part of swap between the artists. Van Gogh chose to represent himself with monastic severity. The other painting is Paul Gauguin's Self-Portrait Dedicated to Vincent van Gogh (Les Misérables). Gauguin's title is a reference to the heroic fugitive, Jean Valjean, in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. 
Article
Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear
4:44
Van Gogh, The Bedroom
Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1889, oil on canvas, 29 x 36-5/8 inches / 73.6 x 92.3 cm (Art Institute of Chicago)
Article
Van Gogh: The Starry Night
3:39
Paul Gauguin, Vision after the Sermon, or Jacob Wrestling with the Angel
Paul Gauguin, Vision after the Sermon, or Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1888, oil on canvas, 2' 4 3/4" x 3' 1/2" (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker & Dr. Beth Harris 
5:03
Gauguin, Nevermore
Paul Gauguin, Nevermore, 1897, oil on canvas (Courtauld Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Rachel Ropeik, Dr. Steven Zucker
4:18
Gauguin, The Red Cow
Paul Gauguin, The Red Cow, 1889, oil on canvas (LACMA) Note: Despite my saying that the cypress trees suggest this canvas may have been painted in the south, it was painted in Le Pouldu near Pont-Aven in Brittany (SZ).
Article
Gauguin, Spirit of the Dead Watching
Article
Gauguin, Oviri
Article
Gauguin, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
Article
An introduction to the painting of Paul Cézanne
Article
Cézanne, The Bather
Article
Cézanne, The Basket of Apples
5:05
Cézanne, Still Life with Plaster Cupid
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Plaster Cupid, oil on canvas, c.1895 (Courtauld Gallery, London) Speakers: Beth Harris, Rachel Ropeik, and Steven Zucker For more: http://smarthistory.org/Cezannes-Still-Life-with-Apples.html
Article
Cézanne, Still Life with Plaster Cupid
3:51
Cézanne, The Red Rock
Paul Cézanne, The Red Rock, c. 1895, oil on canvas, 91 x 66 cm (Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris)
5:35
Cézanne, Still Life with Apples
Cézanne, Still Life with Apples, 1895-98 (MoMA). Speakers: Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. 
Article
Cézanne, Turning Road at Montgeroult
Article
Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire
Article
Cezanne, Card Players
Essay by Dr. Ben Harvey
6:26
Cézanne, Bathers
Paul Cézanne, Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), c. 1894-1905, oil on canvas, 127.2 x 196.1 cm (The National Gallery, London)
4:46
Cezanne, The Large Bathers
Paul Cézanne, The Large Bathers, 1906, oil on canvas, 82-7/8 x 98-3/4 inches / 210.5 x 250.8 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art). In the Google Art Project: http://www.googleartproject.com/collection/philadelphia-museum-of-art/artwork/the-large-bathers-paul-cezanne-french-1839-1906/808050/
2:44
Paul Cézanne's approach to watercolor
Learn how watercolors are created and how Paul Cézanne applied his unique approach to the medium by using pencil lines as an active part of composition, as exemplified by his Still Life. Love art? Follow us on Google+ at http://bit.ly/gettygoogleplus
3:11
Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge, 1893-95, oil on canvas, 48-1/2 x 55-1/2 inches / 123 x 141 cm (Art Institute of Chicago)
Exercise
Post-Impressionism
Test your knowledge.