The Beautiful Era

Beauty and innovation were important aspects of La Belle Époque, that beautiful era in Europe c1890 to 1914 when France and its European neighbours were at peace.  It was a time of political contrasts. Working class militancy and organized socialist movements built on the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. They contrasted with the reality of intense and systematic discrimination between sexes and other cultures. It is a period when art and design flourished. Music became accessible to a wider audience than ever before with the invention of the gramophone. Lovely melodies and romantic songs performed in a Salon could be recorded. This was not serious music but, rather, short pieces – some happy, some sad, but all accessible. In Paris the Cabaret and Can Can thrived while the term Impressionism was given to a new style of painting whose deft brushstrokes and colors emphasized light in all its changing qualities.

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