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Esprit Montmartre

Bohemian Life in Paris around 1900

Removed from the glamour and over-the-top grandeur of Paris during the French Belle Époque, the village-like district of Montmartre stood apart for many poets, artists, and composers as the “other Paris,” a more rural place on the outskirts of the city. In contrast with the wide boulevards and well-tended parks of Haussmann’s Paris, Montmartre possessed stretches of still-vacant land, strolling flâneurs, and the infamous
maquis packed with the makeshift homes of les misérables.

As a bohemian refuge from the relentlessly modern metropolis, Montmartre played an important role for Van Gogh, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the many other creatives who called the hilltop neighborhood home. While the works of the earlier impressionists tended to mirror the well-heeled bourgeois lifestyle to which they were accustomed, this new generation of post-impressionists captured the idyllic landscapes and quaint corner cafés of Montmartre as well as its harsh realities, including the lives of vagabonds and prostitutes. The more than three hundred paintings reproduced in this volume are organized thematically, with chapters that collect works portraying everyday street scenes, the “rural city” and the effects of urbanization, and the raucous Montmartre nightlife, including paintings of the Moulin de la Galette and the legendary Moulin Rouge. The paintings are accompanied by maps and historical photographs, including works by Eugène Atget.
A critic of the time once commented on Montmartre that “the quarter resembles a huge studio.” Esprit Montmartre explores this rich period of artistic production, the contexts that influenced it, and how these contexts continue to influence the image of the artist and subject today.

320 pages | 290 color plates | 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 | © 2014  

Art: European Art

History: European History

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"Around 1900, the bohemian quarter of Montmartre on the outskirts of Paris attracted what is today an all-star lineup of artists: Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh. They arrived, seeking new ideas and new subjects. Their paintings captured not only the cozy corner cafes they frequented but also the can-can dancers and the raucous nightlife at the legendary Moulin Rouge. More than two hundred of their works are reproduced in Esprit Montmartre. . . . A pullout map highlights dozens of sites associated with the artists."

Boston Globe

There have been a number of important historical works on Montmartre and its place in French cultural life, . . . but a work focusing specifically on the artists of Montmartre placed within a social, logistical, and historical framework has been notably absent until now. The current volume fills an important lacuna in the field, especially in its ambition to be comprehensive. . . . [A] beautifully illustrated volume whose plates alone make it a valuable resource for historians and art historians alike.”


Table of Contents


Esprit Montmartre.

La Bohème and a View of an Unfamiliar Paris

Ingrid Pfeiffer

Montmartre as a Village–A View of a Different Paris

Into the Mines of the Extraordinary.

Montmartre: Historical Background and Topography

Markus Castor

Montmartre in 1900.

The Social and Spatial Context of the Bohemian Melting Pot

Chloë Langlais

Cafés, Absinthe Drinkers and Varietés

Dance Clubs and Cabarets in Montmartre during the Belle Époque

Peter Kropmanns

Artist’s Models, Dancers and Prostitutes

The Invention of Modernism.

Montmartre and the Printed Image

Phillip Dennis Cate


Toulouse-Lautrec in Montmartre.

The Formative Years

Danièle Devynck

Journals and Magazines

A ‘Man from the North’ in Paris.

Van Gogh and Montmartre

Nienke Bakker

The Illusionary World of the Circus

Art, Bohemia, and Youth.

Catalan Artists in Montmartre

Vinyet Panyella

Montmartre as an Arena for Outsiders and Social Change

‘Au haut de la Butte’.

Van Dongen’s Early Years in Paris

Anita Hopmans

The Network of Artists and Art Dealers in Montmartre

Picasso and Montmartre.

Fertile Grounds for Artistic Creation

Robert McD. Parker

Artists’ Biographies

List of Exhibited Works

About the Authors

Photo Credits

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