If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
- Ernest Hemingway -
La Belle Époque—literally, “the beautiful era,” a period in French history spanning from the late nineteenth century to 1914—saw the flourishing of arts and culture against the backdrop of pre-World War I peacetime economic prosperity.
Artists, writers, poets, and musicians flocked to the City of Lights, congregating in bohemian artistic communities and engaging in fruitful cross-pollination between mediums. This peaceful, optimistic age gave rise to a societal joie de vivre; everything seemed possible, and artists from Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro to Paul Gaugin and Pablo Picasso undertook artistic pursuits and experimentation in this spirit. With Paris at the center of this explosion of creativity, painters in particular made the city their subject: some of the most iconic examples of Belle Époque art capture the energy of the streets, monuments, bars, and cafes that populated Paris at the turn of the century.
Though the outbreak of World War I brought this era to a halt, the art of the age still captivates contemporary audiences.
...this was the real bohemian life, with its uncertainties and expedients, but free and happy.
- J.P Contamine de Latour -