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Bourgeois Leisure on the Seine: Impressionism, Forgetting and National Identity in the French Third Republic

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In the post-Commune period, visual representations of bourgeois leisure on the Seine exemplified an historical forgetfulness that Renan believed was inherent to nation-building. This article explores the relationship between riverine leisure as depicted in Impressionist painting and the construction of national and cultural identities in the early Third Republic. Idealised views of pleasure-boating on the Seine, symbolic heart of the capital, celebrated the affluent middle classes on whom the new Republic depended and located them in an iconic national riverscape. Such painting was also perceived to embody the modern Republican values of secularism and science, and it was consequently invoked in support of the developing Republican nation.
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Keywords: Boating; Bourgeois Leisure; Impressionism; National Identity; Republicanism; Seine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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