France, by the 1800s was seen by many as the main centre for developments in the avant-garde art of the time. Walter Benjamin described Paris as ‘the capital of the 19th Century’, home to some of the most progressive artistic minds in history and a city determined to be at the forefront of artistic expression. As the Capital evolved politically, socially and culturally, its artists responded either enthusiastically or with reservation to these new changes. From the Napoleonic era to the Haussmanisation of Paris during the Second Empire and the rise of the bourgeoisie; artists including Édouard Manet were confronted with new sights and attitudes which became subjects for their work. Set against this progression was the Paris Salon, a bastion of academic traditions and at odds with radical artists. This course looks at key movements from Romanticism to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Symbolism.