19th C Technology and Architecture

Paris: When it Sizzles! Impressionism and Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.
Gustave Caillebotte 1848-94
Paris, A Rainy Day,1876-77 oil on canvas
o/c  Chicago,A.I. approximately 7'x5'
Form: Semi-Impressionistic painting done using multiple vanishing points, atmospheric perspective, and subtle non-local colors. This painting is a very impressive combination of almost all the formal qualities we have looked at so far this semester.In terms of Caillebotte's use of perspective, he uses multiple points of perspective although on first glance it appears to be just two points.  The lamp post, which is slightly off center is placed just in front of one of the vanishing points.  Caillebotte uses the lamp post to divide the picture plane but also to divide the foreground (on the right) from the far background (on the left.)  Caillebotte also uses atmospheric perspective to dull the intensity and cool the colors of the sky and buildings as they recede into the background.   He also changes the value structure and restricts in the background.
Caillebotte also manipulates the color in an impressionistic manner.  If you look closely at the color of the sky, you will see it is not the typical blue that one may think of as being a sky color.  In fact the sky almost has yellows and greens in it.  The same is true of the colors of the cobblestones.  If you look closely at them you may not that the hue or color of the cobblestones are not the browns and grays one might expect.  Even in the flesh tones of the figures you may notice that there are blues and grays in addition to the warm brown we can anticipate.  (Remember Vermeer did this too.)   This is called using "non-local colors."  This use of "non-local colors" is one of the main tricks of the impressionists.
Iconography:  This painting symbolizes many things.  It represents the destruction of the old Paris and the reconstruction of the newer one by Baron Haussmann.  It also represents the rise in the newer bourgoisie and their access to new found wealth.  This new upper middle class had money thanks to industrialization.  This new class of people were able to spend money and enjoy the wide diagonal vistas created by the renovation of Paris.  The clothing these people wear and the accessories they carry (the top hats and umbrellas) represent the mass creation of these luxury goods.  The bottom of the buildings they walk by are shops that contain wide open picture windows that invite these individuals to spend there newly acquired wealth.
Context: According to the Brittanica,

French painter, art collector, and impresario who combined aspects of the academic and Impressionist styles in a unique synthesis.Born into a wealthy family, Caillebotte trained to be an engineer but became interested in painting and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet in 1874 and showed his works at the Impressionist exhibition of 1876 and its successors. Caillebotte became the chief organizer, promoter, and financial backer of the Impressionist exhibitions for the next six years, and he used his wealth to purchase works by Monet, Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, and Berthe Morisot.
Caillebotte was an artist of remarkable abilities, but his posthumous reputation languished because most of his paintings remained in the hands of his family and were neither exhibited nor reproduced until the second half of the 20th century. His early paintings feature the broad new boulevards and modern apartment blocks created by Baron Haussmann for Paris in the 1850s and '60s. The iron bridge depicted in "Le Pont de l'Europe" typifies this interest in the modern urban environment, while "Floor-Scrapers" (1875) is a realistic scene of urban craftsmen busily at work. Caillebotte's masterpiece, "Paris Street; Rainy Day" (1877; Art Institute of Chicago), uses bold perspective to create a monumental portrait of a Paris intersection on a rainy day. Caillebotte also painted portraits and figure studies, boating scenes and rural landscapes, and decorative studies of flowers. He tended to use brighter colours and heavier brushwork in his later works.
Caillebotte's originality lay in his attempt to combine the careful drawing and modeling and exact tonal values advocated by the academy with the vivid colours, bold perspectives, keen sense of natural light, and unpretentious subject matter of the Impressionists. Caillebotte's posthumous bequest of his art collection to the French government was accepted only reluctantly by the state. When the Caillebotte Room opened at the Luxembourg Palace in 1897, it was the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings ever to be displayed in a French museum. 
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

PARIS. Opera Area. c.1876. 
Demolition for Avenue de l'Opera. (Marville, Charles, photographer). 

RePlan of Paris, 1853,
Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann (1809-1891) and Napoleon III
Form:  Paris is now laid out in a series of broad several lane vistas as wide as some of our 4 lane highways.  The streets are also laid out in diagonals that terminate in views of important or beautiful buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Opera house or the Arche de Triomphe. The streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings that spring up from these streets are fairly uniform in size, shape and ornament because they were all constructed fairly quickly and out of similar materials.

"Distinguished for his bold alterations in the layout of Paris under Napoleon III, he is largely responsible for the city's present appearance. To create adequate traffic circulation, old streets were widened and new ones cut, while the great railway stations were placed in a circle outside the old city and provided with broad approaches. For the enhancement of monuments, open spaces and vistas were contrived, including the Place de l’Opéra, the Étoile, and the Place de la Nation, which became focusing points for radiating avenues. The Bois de Boulogne was laid out, as well as a number of smaller parks. The Boulevard Haussmann in Paris commemorates his name."
Iconography: The redesign incorporates many of the radiating patterns that Versaille's gardens have and many of the structures have the French style roof known as the Mansard style roof that the palace at Versailles exhibits.  This reference to Versailles is either a conscious or unconscious attempt to refer back to Paris and France's pre-Revolutionary and romantic days.Context: According to the Brittanica,

Napoleon III and Haussmann
Even by the mid-19th century, some areas of Paris had not been improved substantially for hundreds of years. Access from one centre to another and to the railway stations (which had become in effect the gateways of Paris) was difficult; moreover, overpopulation and rapid industrialization had brought squalor and misery, which account in part for the dominant role of Paris in the revolutions of both 1830 and 1848. Napoleon III, emperor from 1852 to 1870, enjoined his prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, to remedy these problems.Haussmann was the creator of modern Paris. A planner on the grand scale, he advocated straight arterial thoroughfares, symmetry, and advantageous vistas. He slashed the boulevards through the tangles of slums, began the modern sewer and water systems, gutted the Île de la Cité, rebuilt the ancient market of the Halles, and added four new Seine bridges and rebuilt three old ones. The brilliance and prosperity of Paris under Napoleon III were exemplified in the exhibitions held there in 1855 and 1867.

PARIS. Apt. house, 19th c. 
economic status by floor. Pinkney, pl. 3. 
Form:  The Parisian apartment houses were redesigned to be vertical in orientation and often rose four to five stories. Most buildings were uniform in size and shape and were built around airshafts or a central courtyard which allowed light and air to flow through the entire structure and provided windows for almost all of the inhabited rooms.
The roof was usually designed after the style of Mansard.  The buildings were made mainly from brick and concrete.  Window casements and glass were made from wood often manufactured in standard sizes and shapes.  The buildings were often surrounded by terraces with cast iron and sometimes wrought iron ornamentation. 
The buildings incorporated in door plumbing and gas lights and utilized the extensive Parisian sewer system to sanitize them.
Almost all of the building materials were created elsewhere and then brought to the site and built almost in a modular fashion.  Ins some ways these buildings are the ancestors to our own modularly constructed building developments and even trailer homes.
Iconography:  These redesign of Paris and the construction of such similar apartment blocks symbolized the technological innovations and advancements created by French civil engineers and architects.  The construction of such buildings represented the modernization and homogenization of Parisian culture.  It also demonstrated the new found wealth of the bourgeois (middle classes.)
Context:  The creation of such buildings fit in with the over all street designs of Haussmann and were thought to cut back on diseases caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation.  These buildings also combined commercial spaces with living spaces above and therefore made the downtown areas more commercially viable and convenient.
The bottom floor of the structure usually contained shops or a cafe.  The large glass display windows exhibited the goods inside.  The bottom and second floors were the apartments of the wealthier individuals and sometimes the landlords.  As  one moved up the structure, the stairs created and inconvenience since at that point no elevators existed.  The further one moved from the bottom floors the less expensive the apartments became due to the inconvenience.  Hence in the attic (garret) the artists lived as this diagram can attest.

Charles Garnier's, Opera 1860-1875

Form: Opera House built by Charles Garnier for Napoleon the III. It was to be part of the great revitalization of Paris.Iconography: "Although described by a contemporary critic as 'looking like an overloaded sideboard', it (the Paris Opera House) is now regarded as one of the masterpieces of the period. Here Garnier triumphed over a cramped and difficult site, handling the carriage-ramps and approach steps, the foyers and staircases, both in section and plan, with confidence and skill. The style is monumental, classically based and opulently expressed, as the times demanded, in an elaborate language of multicoloured marbles and lavish statuary. Throughout his life, Garnier was criticized for his excessive use of ornament, as Napoleon and Haussmann are still accused of being inspired by an out-of-date and imperialist showmanship expressed in a language already debased. Such critics forget that every city needs its occasional monuments and occasions of grandeur, and that, thanks largely to these three men, Paris remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world." 
  — John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. p214.
Context: "Charles Garnier was born of humble origins in Paris in 1825. He studied at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin in the evenings until 1840 when he entered the atelier of Lebas. Later he worked as a draughtsman for Viollet-le-Duc. In 1842 Garnier entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he eventually won the Grand Prix de Rome. He studied for five years at the Academy in Rome where he became interested in the "pageantry of Roman society". He rounded out his architectural education with a visit to Greece and Turkey in 1852. Back in Paris, Garnier received few private commissions but accepted several municipal posts including that of architect of the fifth and sixth arrondissemnets. In 1861 Garnier entered and won the competition for the new Paris opera house. His design reflected the aspirations of the Second Empire with its rich coloring and decoration."
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