The Easel

The Dark Side of the Belle Epoque

The decades around January 1, 1900 are popularly associated with sunny outdoor scenes by the Impressionists. But this period also had a darker side. Modernising pressures and urbanisation were breaking up old social structures. What might a new century bring? One French writer, referring to a bleak contemporary novel, concluded “we must have become what in fact we are – a race in its last hour.”