Paris in the Time of the Impressionists at Hôtel de Ville

If you like history, you’ll love Paris au Temps des Impressionistes (Paris in the time of the Impressionists) at Hôtel de Ville – an eyewitness account of the changes taking place in Paris between 1850 and 1914.

Works by Caillebotte, Cezanne, Fantin-Latour and Gaugin, among others, show the transformation of Paris streets under Haussmann. We see the city’s early boulevards, public gardens, grands magasins, and apartment buildings, as well as studies, maps, photographs, and architectural drawings and maquettes from the time.

While there is plenty of beauty on show (my favorite is Caillebotte’s view of Paris rooftops in snow), the show doesn’t shy away from the political difficulties of the period. Particularly moving, and in stark contrast to the depiction of the gas-lit ginguettes and opulence of the then-new Opéra Garnier, are works depicting the Commune of 1871.

See a video of the show with French commentary.

The show is free, and on display until July 23, 2011; closed Sundays and holidays.