The Franco-Prussian War or War of 1870 lasted from July 19, 1870 to January 28, 1871. It was a crazy time! Napoleon II was captured in September, the Second Republic Empire defeated and a Third Republic created, and Paris was besieged and fell on January 28, 1871! Then came a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune which held Paris for two months until the regular army finally took control in May of 1871. Each of our Impressionists handled the war and the aftermath in different ways.
Monet was not going to hang around Paris He and his family took off for England, then the Netherlands and finally came back to France in October or November of 1871, where he settled in Argenteuil, a village on the Seine. He bought a boat as a floating studio where he and his wife hung out with Édouard Manet and his wife and they painted each other!
Monet in His Studio Boat 1874 Edoaurd Manet
Pissarro moved his family to Norwood, then a village on the southern edge of London. He met the Paris art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in London, who helped sell his art for the rest of his life and also put him in touch with Monet who was also in London.
Bazile fought in the war and died! Bazile’s officer was injured and Bazile bravely took command. Bazile was hit twice and died on the battlefield. Before the war started he painted a picture of his studio, hanging out with his friends Manet and Renoir! He’s the tall one the middle!
Studio in Rue de La Condamine 1870 Frederic Bazille
Degas enlisted in the National Guard. When the war was over, Degas took a long trip to New Orleans, avoiding most of the crazy time of the Paris Commune.
Renoir also served in the army. It is said at one point he was painting by the Seine and was mistaken for a spy and was about to be thrown into the river until someone recognized him!
Pont- Neuf 1872 Auguste Renoir
Mary Cassatt was actually an American, from what is now Pittsburgh and studied in Paris. She came from a wealthy family and went home before the war started. She was not a happy camper! Her well to do father didn’t approve of her vocation, sales were slow and her inspiration quashed! Happily she made her was back to Europe in the fall of 1871.
There was no Paris Salon in 1871 due to the war. 1872’s Salon was not thought to be impressive at all! 1873 brought about the third Salon des Refuses with critics again complaining about the quality of the work at The Salon. 1874 is when our Impressionists gave their first Exhibit of their own. The work of the Impressionists then simply seemed to blossom!