The turn of the 19th century introduced the masses to leisure and seaside holidays. Entire sections of society who had previously never imagined the word “vacation” were now spending summers on the coast. It wasn’t long before the art world started capturing this new facet of daily life, with the Impressionists paying special attention to the phenomenon.
The newest exhibit at Caen’s fine art museum, “Summer by the Seaside: Leisure Activities and Impressionism” seeks to illustrate the rise of leisure in society. Divided into four parts, the exhibit focuses on works centered around the sand, the sea, boats and sails, and the iconic sun bath. The exhibition in Caen features 67 art pieces, and runs until September 29th…appropriately through the end of summer.
Works by Manet, Monet, and Degas are featured in “the sand” section of the exhibit. Once tiny fishing villages were transformed into bastions for beach going, and the impressionists often capture beach scenes in their work. “The sea” and the “boats and sails” categories depict the transformed coastlines and new perspectives provided by the sea and watercrafts. The last part of the exhibit, focused around sun bathing in the Mediterranean features the largest and most well-known pieces of the exhibit, with masterpieces by Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne.