6 Iconic paintings of Paris

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Artists have long turned to Paris for inspiration. Painters have captured its beauty, atmosphere and romance on canvas for centuries. Here, we take a close look at six renowned works that shine a light on the city of love and direct you to where the paintings were originally set.

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1. A Bar at the Folies-Bergère – Édouard Manet

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A Bar at the Folies-Bergère was created at the hands of French artist Édouard Manet in 1882 and continues to intrigue historians with its captivating scene and skewed angles of reflection. Featuring a barmaid, who it is assumed also operated as a prostitute, this contemporary piece depicts the grandeur of Folies-Bergère, one of Paris’s greatest show venues of that period. Today, curious scholars must visit London’s The Courtauld Gallery to see the original work.

2.Dance at Le moulin de la Galette – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

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Hailed as one of the most beautiful impressionist paintings in the world, Dance at Le moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, captures a joyful Sunday afternoon in 1876 at the outdoor café and dancehall, near his home in Montmartre. Lovers of this art era can see the painting whilst visiting Paris at Musée d’Orsay. Then, take it a step further and dine at the infamous Le moulin de la Galette.

3. Rainy Day – Gustave Caillebotte

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Dating back to 1877, Paris Street; Rainy Day is a 19th century masterpiece capturing a moment in time of an urban landscape. Set close to Saint-Lazare train station at Place de Dublin, artist Gustave Caillebotte used gloomy colours and wide composition to paint a dramatic scene of a changing Paris and how it was affecting her people. Housed in the Art Institute of Chicago, you can still visit the intersection where the scene was based although it has lost some of its charm.

4. Boulevard Montmartre, Morning, Cloudy Weather – Camille Pissarro

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A short three-month stint living in Paris in 1897 led Camille Pissarro to paint over 15 artworks of the streets he could view from his room at the Grande Hotel de Russie in Montmartre. One of these canvasses was Boulevard Montmartre, Morning, Cloudy Weather which can now be found at the Found at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.

5. In a Café, also called Absinthe – Edgar Degas

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In a Café, also called Absinthe is a painting that draws you back to look at it time again, searching for hints of who the man and woman were. Although the masterpiece was produced in Degas’s studio, the setting was believed to represent the Nouvelle Athènes Café in the Place Pigalle, where impressionist painters including Matisse, Van Gogh and Degas would meet. The infamous artwork from 1873 hangs in Paris at Musée d’Orsay. Sadly, the site of the Nouvelle Athènes was demolished in 2004.

6. Terrace of a Cafe on Montmartre – Vincent van Gogh

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Portraying a regular meeting spot for artists like Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne, Renoir and Monet, Terrace of a Cafe on Montmartre is one of Vincent van Gogh’s most renowned Paris works. View the 1886 original at Musée d’Orsay then head to the café it was based on which has since been renamed La Bonne Franquette.

(Feature image: Serge Melki)

6 Iconic paintings of Paris was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Claire Plush
Author: Claire Plush (36 posts)

I tell stories because I’m a photographer and a writer, blogging at claireplush.com. The past 9 years have been a hearty mixture of study, travel and new experiences, and have been split between Noosa, Raglan (New Zealand) and more recently, Paris.