Paris; the undisputed art capital of the world
Paris was a city that worked like a magnet on anyone with artistic ambitions, from the Netherlands and the rest of the world.
exciting city life
Paris had an exciting, vibrant city life. You could go out well into the night and live like a bohemian.
art and education
Paris had the most beautiful museums, the best education, the smartest art dealers and especially the most inspiring artists' scene.
Paris was a dream city in the 19th century. ' The greatest magic sound of my life. That is where the torch of modern art flames and the enthusiasm and love for her lives, there are her most zealous worshipers and her favorite darlings , "wrote the painter Gerard Bilders.
Nowhere else in the world could you see so much art. The Musée du Louvre was opened in 1793 and the Musée du Luxembourg for contemporary masters in 1818.
Prix de Rome
France was also decisive for the Netherlands at that time, certainly in the cultural field. Between 1806 and 1810, during his brief Dutch reign, King Louis Napoleon made a start with a national library, a national Rijksmuseum and established the Prix de Rome, with which young artists could study in Rome and Paris.
The first Dutch artists
The first Dutch artists in Paris fully participated in the official French art world.
The mayor son of Tilburg Gerard van Spaendonck arrived in 1769 and became court painter of Louis XVI, thanks to his still lifes of flowers and plants.
Ary Scheffer, who arrived in 1811, grew to be one of the most famous painters in France and was friends with King Louis-Philippe, who reigned from 1830 to 1848.
From 1847 there was a direct train connection from Antwerp, within a day you were from Amsterdam or Rotterdam at the Gare du Nord.
More than a thousand Dutch artists lived in Paris for a short or longer period of time in the nineteenth century. On average, they remained just over six years.
The French artists inspired the Dutch artists and the Dutch inspired their French colleagues.
Amsterdam and The Hague were just dull provincial cities compared to the great Paris.
The highlight in the artistic life was the annual Salon, organized by the Académie des Beaux Arts, a state institution. In those days people saw very few pictures, and certainly very few pictures in color, but at the Salon you could see hundreds of paintings once a year.
De Salon could make or break an artist. Being admitted was of vital importance, but did not guarantee success. The halls were filled with paintings from plinth to ceiling. A small tableautje high in the corner was hardly noticed.
Artists therefore made large canvases or begged the jury for a better place. The critic Zacharie Astruc described the Salon as ' a bloody war of ambitions – the blows are applied with the brush, but are just as deadly '.
There was a major drawback: access to the Salon was guarded by the elderly and extremely conservative members of the Académie des Beaux Arts, which threatened to petrify French art.
In 1836 Scheffer refused to exhibit at the Salon in protest against the fact that innovative artists such as Eugène Delacroix were invariably excluded.
Scheffer, son of an artist couple, came to Paris with his mother after the death of his father.
He received a French artist education, became a drawing teacher in 1822 for the children of the future French king Louis-Philip and knew artists such as Delacroix, Ingres and Géricault personally. Although not everyone liked his style – Charles Baudelaire called his works ' sentimentally imitated ' – his work had an influence as far as the Netherlands. For example, Jozef Israels , for example, Scheffer's melancholic composition 'of a girl in tears on the shore of the sea' copied almost one on one to an 'Ophelia'.
the art dealers and publisher Goupil
Diagonally opposite Scheffer's house, it must have been busy at the end of his life: the art dealership and publisher Goupil built an impressive head office there. On the top two floors were artists' studios, below it an exhibition space and a printing company for the prints. The tactic: Goupil trained talented artists in exchange for the exclusive use of the paintings in print form.
an alternative circuit
From the thirties of the nineteenth century an alternative circuit arose around the art trade that served an emerging bourgeoisie. Painters became less dependent on the Salon. The choice of subject also changed. The new bourgeoisie was less interested in solemn historical pieces and more in atmospheric landscapes. Precisely while traditionally historic pieces had the most prestige and landscapes stood at the bottom of the ladder.
Montmartre as a sanctuary
Montmartre was a lot more rural than now. That was precisely the reason why the Dutch arrived here: until 1860 the northern district had been located outside the city limits, and fell outside the city tax. Even after that it was even cheaper and there was room for studios.
Many more painters, from the second half of the 19th century, also settled in Montmartre. It was a rough neighborhood, a sanctuary where no tax on wine had to be paid.
At the foot of the hill, entertainment palaces arose, such as the Moulin Rouge, where civilians enjoyed themselves with dancers, laundresses, and working-class girls, who may or may not get lost in paid love.
Workers and artists lived on the hill itself, including the Dutch Vincent van Gogh, Kees van Dongen and George Hendrik Breitner.
The Second World War was a huge blow. Piet Mondrian and other artists left for the United States, as did major art dealers, such as the Jewish Rosenberg family, who represented Picasso.
after the WWII
Then the French culture was overwhelmed by the Anglo-Saxon pop culture.
Paris is still a beautiful city with a rich cultural offer, but no longer the art metropolis that it was then. A major reason for this is that cities flourish when there is an artistic basis. For this, rents must be low, so that young artists can easily live there.
You saw that in Paris in the nineteenth century, in New York after the Second World War and in Berlin in the eighties.
Many of the artists represented in the Jewish Virtual Museum have been in Paris for a short or longer period, see below.