Europe: 19th century

Second Empire

Voyeurism and spectacle were key to the wealthy upper classes of the Second Empire.

1852 - 1870

videos + essays

Grand boulevards, glittering interiors, and the growth of the leisure class in a transformed Paris.

Thomas Couture, <em>Romans of the Decadence</em>
Thomas Couture, Romans of the Decadence

Like other academic artists, Couture draws a subject from ancient Rome, but chooses decadence, not heroism.

Charles Garnier, The Paris Opéra
Charles Garnier, The Paris Opéra

Seeing and being seen: the opera was a place of voyeurism and spectacle among the prosperous classes of the city.

Haussmann the Demolisher and the creation of modern Paris
Haussmann the Demolisher and the creation of modern Paris

Haussman bulldozed the ancient, winding streets of the medieval city to bring law, order, and hygiene to Paris.