Arkwright's Mill at Night

Arkwright's Mill at Night, Joseph Wright, 1782

Arkwright's Mill, owned by Richard Arkwright, was a textile mill in Derbyshire on the River Derwent. It had a water frame that made longer cotton warp threads for a textile loom. This mill was used to build house working spinning machines because it spins four spindles of cotton of threads at a time. This new mill created jobs that helped employ people, which created a new economy. 

The sky reflects on the river next to the mill on the upper half of the painting. The darker colors used on the painting give it a gloomy feeling. It seems like the feeling of having to work long, lonely hours is beaming from the dark border around the mill. In the middle of the dark background, the mill sits in a valley. The mill is brighter than the rest of the painting to show the financial hope it brings to the economy. 

  • 7:00 AM

The Floor Scrapers

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875
This Impressionist piece contains three workers on their knees working tediously to scrape the floors of a bourgeois apartment. The three shirtless men seem to represent a form of masculinity and strength as they are the workforce behind creating such an extravagant setting, but their hunched poses could be hinting at vulnerability and exhaustion instead. The 19th century was filled with wealthy people attempting to impress their snobby friends with baller houses and fancy clothes, which is cool until you realize that their are other guys doing labor jobs for some terrible pay.

The renovation occurring in the apartment also references the modernization of Paris with new technological developments. The city is getting filled with railroad stations, crowded streets, and luxury apartment buildings.

The costs for all these improvements are the hardships of manual labor. The floor scrapings are curled just like the curled men. The aren't in a comfortable position, and the rich would never understand how complex and difficult it is to create what they desire. That's probably why this painting was first rejected, as people did not enjoy how the bodies were portrayed.
  • 7:00 AM

The Gleaners

Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857

Also a feature on Animal Crossing game, The Gleaners by Jean François Millet showcases the realistic view of poverty within the society during the industrial time, but also displays a sympathetic view towards poor, low ranked peasants. However, this piece was a way to critique the unfair treatments of female laborers. The day he showcased this painting, it drew many negative comments from the French middle and upper class because it was a reminder that French society was built from the labor of working classes. On top of that, the fact that Millet created this piece in such a huge scale, depicting labor classes ended up making it worse for the public eye. 

Millet painted with oil on canvas and  divided the composition in half. the top half can be seen as a city where its clean and calm with pinkish blue skies. However, the bottom half of the painting, we can see the peasants working in an unlikeable setting. The ladies are set in a triangular composition from right arm of the women with the blue hat connecting to the women with green hat. They are also in the center as a focal point to strictly depict the poor working class within the painting. The colors are set in a neutral tone so that the women seem as if they are blended with the ground. 

  • 7:00 AM

The Third Class Carriage

Honoré Daumier, The Third Class Carriage, 1864

One recurrent themes of  Honoré Daumier's work, was the impact of industrialization and urbanization on the working class people of Paris. Here, in The Third Class Carriage, his societal commentary turns his attention to new forms of public transport, namely, trains. His interest was not in the vehicles themselves, but instead in the ways in which they reinforced social hierarchy within such modern and allegedly democratic conveyances.

The invention and widespread use of the railroad was but one of the many changes heralded by the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution shattered societal norms throughout Europe by dramatically redefining the socio-economic standings of many working class citizens. As the factory system and mechanization of tools took over, many working class citizens found themselves forced out of the country-side and into the cities. This may be exact situation of the women in Daumier’s work here. It is quite possible that the subjects of his painting have been forced to abandon their previous jobs as artisans or farmers in the wake of industrialization.

The women in the foreground of the painting represent three generations, almost as if it were the full spectrum of life.  The figures who occupy the wooden bench in the painting's foreground are clearly of the lower class, as indicated by their disheveled and worn appearance. These third class travelers are physically separated from the more affluent passengers behind them, representing their social and economic separation. The third class family also faces away from the rest of the passengers, further emphasizing their isolation and rejection from Parisian society.

The feeling of compression that dominates the background is dispelled by the spaciousness surrounding the figures nearest the picture plane. In contrast to the irritable expressions of the wealthier passengers in the background, the nursing mother, the grandmother, and the sleeping child, who are all bathed in a golden light, seem quite serene. These features may allude to Daumier’s critique of the upper class being emotionally unfulfilled despite their apparent economic success. Daumier may be saying that it is be better to remain impoverished and content than wealthy and miserable. Though the painting is unfinished, it is still obvious that Daumier seeks to capture the plight of the working class by capturing the quiet moments of their everyday lives.
  • 7:00 AM

The Absinthe Drinker

Eduard Manet, The Absinthe Drinker, 1858

The latter part of the 19th Century brought rapid industrialization to Europe. With the rise of factory manufacturing, the population began to flock towards urban centers to work. Many people resented the moral decline that seemed to accompany the Industrial Revolution. Alcohol seemed in direct contradiction of the strict organization necessary for a successful industrial economy.

The Foundry and Engineering Works of the Royal Overseas Trading Company outlines a set of nineteen rigid rules for factory workers. These rules emphasize policies of intolerance toward drunkenness on the job.

Absinthe became popular in late 19th Century Paris, especially in bohemian artist circles. Colloquially called the "Green Fairy," absinthe became a symbol of social defiance and gained opposition from politicians and social conservatives. The alleged hallucinatory substance was eventually banned in many countries.

The sheer scale of Manet's The Absinthe Drinker forces viewers to see a mundane subject in a heroic pose at a size often reserved for portraits of royalty. The man, who is supposedly modeled after a man named Collardet, wears a dark cloak and top hat. Framed by an empty liquor bottle and a half-filled glass of absinthe, he seems to retreat into the shadows. The crumbling wall and dimly lit scene seems to hint at disorder, immorality, chaos, all of which lie in stark contrast to the period's fascination with order. This painting, with its muted and dusty colors, is the epitome of realism. It offers a glimpse of the disorder that balanced out the suffocating regulation and rote nature of factory life.
  • 7:00 AM

The Apple Pickers

Camille Pissarro, The Apple Pickers, 1884-6

Richard R. Brettell, author of Modern Art 1851-1929, depicts Pissarro as a dedicated painter of traditional rural life. However, the author also explains how the artist, an anarchist, differentiates himself in the category of rural depiction because of his use of urban art techniques. Brettell explains the artist as seemingly a perfectionist and possibly insecure because Pissarro painted this three times before finally selling it. I believe that Pissarro excluded the sky from this work to remove the subjects from the natural setting and more so resemble a factory as they hunch over in the heat exhaustedly. 

I agree with Brettell that these women were intended to depict farming innocently despite their sex, which was commonly used simply for lust. One woman pokes the apples with a stick to remove ripe ones, one hunches over to pick them up and arrange them in a basket to transport, and one woman bites an apple to taste test. Brettell does not explain but this work clearly shows the cycle of production to actual profit because the workers must grow, pick, clean, transport, and then sell their products. Brettell explains how most farmers did not only produce food for themselves, but to sell to a market and or individuals for a profit which can be taken from the work because of the worker eating one in the process of preparing to sell. The author gives background in explaining that the artist chose this topic to paint because he admired rural labor and other people were already doing industrial labor. 
  • 7:00 AM

La Gare Saint Lazare

Claude Monet, La Gare Saint Lazare, 1877

Monet's La Gare Saint Lazare epitomizes the Industrial Revolution and the hopes of socio-economic views in the 19th century. Claude Monet illustrates a beaming metropolis of rail and a free market economy, a system economist Adam Smith argued in favor for in the 1700s. Smith advocated for laissez-faire economics, a system free from governmental rule. He firmly believed in the principle of the invisible hand, meaning the market itself will establish its ebbs and flows. As portrayed in Monet's work, Smith felt that industry functioned best with a division of labor, meaning each workers did only one task. This made for a more efficient working environment. 

Monet shows the worker on the railroad and the passerby prospectively. La Gare Saint Lazare can be seen as an visual representation of struggling socio-political ideologies. On the left side of painting trains and industry dominate the canvas, showcasing a desire for industrial success or capitalism, while on the opposite side of the piece people gather longing for equal rights and pay, or the basis of Marxist communism. 

Monet blurs the lines between these world intentionally, not only to create a beautiful work, but to showcases that these two ideologies were rediscovered in the wake of industrialization. Claude Monet masterfully portrays the social, political and economic ideas of Adam Smith and Karl Marx in La Gare Saint Lazare.
  • 7:00 AM

London: Crystal Palace Int.: etching main avenue display areas

George Cruikshank, London: Crystal Palace Int.: etching main avenue display areas, 1850-1


In Friedrich Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, he discusses the problems that arise in a growing industrial world. People sacrifice so much of their identity in order to create an ideal. They have to let go of their true selves to fit into this urban world. This loss of uniqueness for conformity distances people from one another.

Engles says that "this isolation of the individual - this narrow-minded egotism - is everywhere the fundamental principle of modern society" (124). The more separate and same you are, the better chance you have of succeeding. The reality is that people have created "the war of all against all" (124). No more are your neighbors your friends, but they are your competition. Those who may still share commonalities have become strangers. This is the way the world works. The city only makes this selfishness worse.

Cruikshank's etching shows commoners at a gathering area, all looking similar and participating in a bland activity. Not only does this show progressing industrialization, but supports Engles observation of sameness as the answer. It shows the wealthier side, the people who have followed the same path. This is the result of how the strong has trampled the weak, a result Engles wrote about. As the world industrializes, the separateness between the rich and poor continues to grow.
  • 7:00 AM

A Bar at the Folies-Bergére

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Edouard Manet, 1882

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere is considered Manet's last major work. This painting represents one of the most prominent music halls in Paris at the time. We see through the mirror behind the barmaid that the guests (aka the wealthy white people) are enjoying their time, but the expression of the barmaid tells another story. The painting used the mirror to draw a separation between the bourgeoises with the working class, creating an unsettling composition. As prosperous as the place might seem, the music halls were a common place for elites to pick up prostitutes which spark the question of the barmaid's true occupation. She does not have much expression. In fact, she looks very much dead inside to me. Is she worrying what the rest of the night will be like? If you look closely at her reflection in the mirror, you can see that she is talking to a man. What is he there for? Is he there for some unspeakable business trade with this poor barmaid? Or is he only an innocent guest here a drink and a good time?

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere speaks to me as a frustration of separations between social classes and social injustices.  The mirror is almost like a line between reality and a dream. The barmaid is in a hellhole of reality while the others living beyond the mirror are in fancy attire.
  • 7:00 AM

Rain, Steam, and Speed

Joseph M. Turner, Rain, Steam, and Speed, 1844

This work of art was painted in 1844, in the midst of everything changing -- sometimes for the better, and other times for the worst. During the time in which this was painted, the world was been radically modernized. This is what most people like to call The Industrial Revolution. Things like factories, trains, and mechanical reproduction became possible. 

This painting can be depicted several ways, it just depends on how the viewer is looking at it. The way I see it is the further evolution of technology in the modern world. Others could view it as technology racing towards the destruction of nature, because of the radical changing of the world. 

The blurriness in the background is interesting. It suggests that for some may be the change was too fast for people to keep up with. I guarantee that there were some people who didn't want any of this to happen. But on the other hand, some people were excited about the change, either because they needed it or were tired or bored of the current system. 
  • 7:00 AM