THE CITY ELECTRIC

Once the Second Empire (1852–1870) had established abundant gaslight throughout the city, Parisians embraced the blazing illumination as a new metropolitan signature. Electric street lighting, with which Paris was one of the first cities to experiment, enhanced this trademark image. A preoccupation with artificial lighting of all types swept the city when electric light first began to flood the public eye in the 1840s. By the end of the 1870s, electricity illuminated high-profile boulevards, shops, factories, and art exhibitions, securing the French capital's reputation as "The City of Light". The progression culminated in the systematic installation of incandescent electric street lighting across the city in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Pierre Bonnard, Street at Evening in the Rain, from the series Some Aspects of Paris Life, c. 1898. Color lithograph on paper. The Clark © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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