Claude Monet, Les déchargeurs de charbon, 1875. Oil on canvas, 55 x 66 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY. Photo: Patrice Schmidt

The AGO’s New Exhibit Will Take You On a Trip to 19th Century Paris

Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more, is on from February 16 until May 5.

When you stand in front of Monet painting, a rush of inexplicable nostalgia may rush over you. You’ll likely associate the small brush strokes with scenes of recreation and leisure, and you might long for the simplicity of everyday life in the late 1800s: a stroll through a garden, an alfresco lunch, a room full of ballet dancers at the Palais Garnier. Who among us would refuse a quick time-travelling vacation to turn-of-the-century Paris? From here, it all looks quite idyllic.

Impressionism, however, emerged during a period of tremendous change in France. Artists of this movement worked to depict everyday life—which means that alongside images of sunsets and seasides, they also depicted the grand innovations of industry and technology. Think “train tracks sliced through their landscapes; smokestacks dotted their horizons,” writes the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more, on at the AGO from February 16 until May 5, looks at how Impressionists captured the whirlwind of technological progress that happened in this period. The special exhibition brings masterpieces from around the world to the AGO, including over 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and film by artists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. “Bringing these works together will offer a new perspective on Impressionism, which is more often associated with leisure activities and sunny landscapes,” says Caroline Shields, the AGO’s Assistant Curator, European Art. “These artists were equally fascinated by the modernity of industry. Their art celebrates the changes occurring around them and the people who made it all happen.”

Here’s a preview of works included in the exhibit: