About the Artwork

While many of the greatest Impressionist paintings of the 1870s by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his contemporaries are festive scenes of suburban or rural sociability, the city, particularly Paris, also provided a constant source of vibrant motifs. In this painting, executed the year after the first Impressionist exhibition was held in Paris, Renoir depicts one of the so-called grands boulevards cutting through the heart of the city. These broad new avenues lined with uniform--some thought monotonous--stone facades had been built in the 1850s and 1860s by the town-planner Baron Georges Eugène Haussmann, and they transformed Paris into a modern metropolis. Renoir clearly relishes the contemporary bustle, filling his canvas with traffic and commerce and lively, hurried sociability, all unified by the shimmering play of light filtering down through the treetops. Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 196

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