The Grands Boulevards is an oil painting that was painted in 1875 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The painting illustrates a busy Paris boulevard showing the effects of industrialization and Haussmannization. The image is today housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Grands Boulevards illustrates the Haussmannization of Paris through the wide, paved street, and the large concrete building to the right of the painting. The Boulevard is teeming with life; not only does the painting illustrate all classes, but it emphasizes the flâneurs. Renoir’s emphasis moves away from the human figure and towards how lighting affects the image. The painting shows the clothes worn by the people on the boulevard in detail, from which their social class can be inferred, but their individuality is hidden because Renoir chooses not to show any details of their faces. His focus is on the effect of sunshine on the buildings and trees. The painting shows great detail in the shadows created by the sun shining on the trees, and also the shadows created by the people as well as the horse-drawn carriage. Throughout the painting it is evident that Renoir was influenced by impressionism. The characteristics of impressionism that can be seen in Renoir’s work are short brush strokes and a seemingly out of focus view.
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