Paris was transformed into a modern and international capital in the mid-nineteenth century when the crowded, dirty passageways of the old city center were replaced by wide streets and boulevards. These new streets were made for a growing, middle-class Parisian population. The street, in particular the boulevard, became the most important social space of the new French capital.

Eugene Delacroix
Leading the People, 1830
For Romatic painters and writers, the street was a politically turbulent space, the principal venue where the populace expressed their disenchantment with prevailing powers and where the conservatives tried to supress this avalanche.

Aguste Renior
The Pont-Neuf, 1872
The completion of the new city layout was celebrated at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, the same year that a group of avant-garde painters decided to depict Paris in all its glory. The modern city was of interest to those painters who claimed to be modern-specifically Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Caillebotte. These artists painted the movement of the crowd, the wide space of the sky, and other elements of the city such as rivers, trees, and gardens. At first, the new streets themselves were not depicted, but then they became a topic of interest for Impressionists.

Rue St. Denis, 1878

Gustave Caillebotte
Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877
Paris Street; Rainy Day,shows a complex intersection near the Gare Saint-Lazare.Caillebotte based the painting's composition on careful perspective. Despite its highly organized structure and finished surface, Paris Street; Rainy Day depicts the momentary, the casual, and the atmospheric as do the paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Degas included here. This monumental painting, which measures almost seven by ten feet, is considered Caillebotte's masterpiece.

The Rue Mosnier Decorated with Flags, 1878

In Manet's The Rue Mosnier Decorated with Flags, the strong angle of the sun coming from the west shows that it is late afternoon. The viewer looks out of Manet's window, a repairman with one leg is featured in the foreground--an amazing balancing act. Another worker is bending over a utility cart. The flags are not particularly a representation of a festive celebration. Instead they frame a moment of everyday reality.