social and political developments

under construction

Social and political developments


Here you will find in chronological order short info on social and political developments that were related to the Impressionists. First you will find some general info on earnings and costs. For the general references (=R) see and for the references to internet pages (=iR) see.


General info on earnings and costs:

  • Workers at stone quarries earned around 3 1/2 francs a day, which was about three times higher than the average rate for manuel labour (R59,p157). So this makes about 18 francs a week, 72 francs a month and 864 francs a year for a stone quarries worker. And 6 a week, 24 a month and 288 francs a year for a manuel labour.
  • Around 1859 a young man could live from 125 francs a month (1500 francs a year) (R22, p25).
  • In 1863 Monet had to pay 3,75 francs for a full-pension at the Inn ‘Cheval-Blanc’ (R22,p49), This makes 112,50 a month.
  • 1865: about 2/3 of the population paid less than 250 francs a month rent in Paris, the rest paid between 250 and 1500 francs (iR3).


Chronological developments:

Note: I also mentions dates of inventions; if you read more about it, mostly several people at about the same time were busy inventing and several different data are given. The same applies to other historical data. I only mention the most common known data to give an overall impression of the backrounds for the impressionist times.

  • 1764: invention steam engine by James Watt (iR5)
  • 1789: French revolution against the absolute power of the King of Louis XVI, from the Bourbon dynasty (iR3)
    1789/07/14: assault on the Bastille (iR3)
  • 1792: first French republic (iR3)
  • 1799: Napoleon Bonaparte first consul (iR3)
  • 1802: first steam locomotive built by Trevithick (iR3)
  • 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte crowned emperor (iR3)
  • 1814: first defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte (iR3)
  • 1814: Louis XVIII, from the Bourbon dynasty, king of France (iR3)
  • 1815: battle of Waterloo / definitive defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte (iR3)
  • 1822: the very first permanent photo was made (iR4)
  • 1824/09: Charles X, from the Bourbon dynasty, king of France (iR3)
  • 1830/July: revolution against the Bourbon dynasty (iR3)
    Start of the ‘July’ monarchy by king Louis-Philippe I, from the house of Orléans. It started liberal, but ended reactionary (R59,p129)
  • mid-1830s: first major railway line from Paris (Gare Saint-Lazare) to Saint-Germain-en-Laye (R17,p138)
  • 1839: Daguerre invents an important photography process (iR3)
  • 1841: the first paint tubes were invented; Renoir said: ‘Without tubes of paint, there would have been no impressionism’. (iR3)
  • 1844ca: opening Paris-Sceaux railway line (R17,p158)
  • 1848: Februar revolution; start of the second Republic; several changes of power (R59,p131)
    1848/12/02: Louis-Napoleon elected as president of the French republic (iR3;R59,p131)
  • 1848: Marx + Engels: Communist manifest
  • 1851: the railway line Paris – Saint-Germain-en-Laye also stopped ata Asnières, Bois-Colombes, Colombes and Argenteuil; before that one could take a steamboat going through Billancourt, Saint-Cloud, Asnières, Clichy, Saint-Denis, epinay, Gennevilliers to Argenteuil; by 1864 this train ran every hour (R17,p146+158)
  • 1852/12/02: Louis-Napoléon became emperor Napoléon III (iR3;R59,p131)
  • 1853-1870: Baron Hausmann (1809-91), prefect of Seine; 1853-59: whole blocks of houses were broken down; 350.000 people had to move; 1859-67: rebuilding Paris with Boulevards, most with the Arc the Triumph as starting point; 1867-70: several projects like building of squares; other changes were the creation of parcs (like the Bois de Bologne), railway stations (Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est), bridges, canals (like Saint-Martin) and a system of underground aquaducts (iR3); the building of prominent buildings as l’Opéra, Les Halles (R32,p8).
  • 1854: Nadar opened an photographic studio; he would portray many (impressionist) artists and other celebrities; his official name was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910) (iR3)
  • 1858: Nadar first took photos from an air balloon (iR3)
  • 1860: annexation of eleven communes into Paris: Auteuil, Batignolles-Monceau, Montmartre, La Chapelle, Passy, La Villette, Belleville, Charonne, Bercy, Grenelle and Vaugirard (iR3)
  • 1861: The first permanent color photograph was taken (iR3)
  • 1867: Karl Marx publishes ‘Das Kapital’ (R5,p44)
  • 1868: the first bicycle was made (iR4)
  • 1870: Paris had grown to 1,9 million inhabitants (in 1800: 550.000, in 1850: 1 million) (R3,p130)
  • 1870/07/19: start Franco-Prussian war (R2,p96)
    1870/09/04: proclamation third French Republic (R3,p103)
  • 1871/01/14 (or:28): armistice Franco-Prussian war (R2,p96; R3,p103)
    1871, 03/18: start of the revolting Commune in Paris, trying to establish a socialist government (R2,p96; R60,p34; R3,p103)
    1871/05/16: demolition of the column of Napoleon on the Place Vendôme (R5,p70)
    1871/05/28: submission of the Paris Commune to the government (R5,p70;R2,p96)
    1871/05/10: Peace of Frankfurt; treaty which forces France to pay large sums of compensation (R2,p97)
  • 1872: increase of trade; France pays back the debts to Germany (R5,p74)
  • 1873: start of a world wide economic crisis (R3,p111)
  • 1875: The Paris Opera was finished (iR3)
  • 1876: the Republican party wins the elections (R5,p95)
    1876: quarrels within the First International between marxist and anarchist factions (R5,p95)
    1876: invention of the telephone by Bell (R5,p95)
    1876: the economy of France still didn’t go well (R3,p197)
  • 1878: the French economy glided into a depression (R2,p202)
  • 1879 partly and 1880/07/11 or 21: full amnesty for Communards (=people who joined the Commune in 1871) (R5,p114+123; R3,p218)
  • 1879: first electric light bulb by Edison (iR5)
  • 1881/11/12 Proust, a friend of Manet, becomes minister of fine arts (R5,p124)
  • 1882/02/01: start of a long period of economic stagnation, after the bankruptcy of the Union Générale; the economic depression lowered the prices of paintings (R2,p421; R5,p128)
  • 1885: the first car with an engine motor (iR5)
    1885: The first flexible photographic roll film (iR3)
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