Sunday, June 21, 2009

Belle Epoque -- The Beautiful Era

La Belle Epoque is the name given to the era on the continent extending from the end of the Franco-German war (1870-1) up to the beginning of "The Great War", World War I. It was a time of relative political and economical stability and it afforded the leisure classes ample time and funds to enjoy life and its pleasures. The society set of the rich and the beautiful flocked to Paris to see Sarah Bernhardt perform Shakespeare and to view magnificent productions at the Opéra Garnier. A new style in art took hold, Art Nouveau, and since color lithographs had recently been invented, fabulous posters revolutionized advertising. In the "Gay Nineties" the gentlemen frequented Parisian Can-Can houses and burlesques at the Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge and at the fin de siècle, the whole world seemed to party. A new monarch in England, Edward VII, closed the era of Victorian stuffiness, and the world was poised for something wonderful. The first bell tolling the end of the "Beautiful Era" was the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The disaster, of unprecedented proportion, struck the international psyche — the party was over. Only 2 years later, in 1914, the glamorous young men who had caroused in the glitz of Paris, doffed their tailcoats for uniforms and marched to die in the muddy trenches of Western Europe.



PumpkintheCat said...

GG, there's something about this era that I too find fascinating. Is it possible to feel nostalgic for a period and lifestyle that was never mine? I think I do! Thanks for the post. :)

B. said...

I adore the posters, especially ones by Toulouse Lautrec.

G.G. said...

B. -- Actually, none of the above are by Lautrec. The ones that remind you of Lautrec are by a Frenchman named Jules Chéret, who is often called "Master of the Poster"

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