The glamorous centre of the Paris of Napoleon III was constructed as a theatre for the new rich class of bourgeoisie to exhibit their wealth and power.
As fortunes were made and lost in often shady deals, their wives carried the burden of exhibiting virtue and purity. Artists of the time portray them in sheltered interiors pursuing mindless occupations much like the children or pets that surrounded them. Ignorance is bliss
Times of immense social and political change require new visual images to encapsulate ideals and translate them into a form that could at the same time codify and re-enforce their message.
This series of three lectures will study the new subject matter of painting created during the formation of the Dutch Republic in 1581, the era of the French Revolution of 1789 and the rise of the Parisian bourgeoisie during the Second Empire from 1851. Religious art was no longer capable of depicting emerging ideas about civic and private virtue.
SYLVIA SAGONA is an internationally recognised specialist on 19th century French society. She retired from the French Department at The University of Melbourne to work on historical documentaries for French and Australian television and is currently researching a film on the invention of the restaurant in Paris in the 18th century.
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902), The Convalescent, circa 1875-1880, oil on canvas | 116.6 x 93.3 cm, collection of Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust, Sheffield, England, 2213, Public Domain