For the frustrated Paris-based artists battling with the Academy during the second half of the 19th century Baudelaire was that individual.
The Painter of Modern Life, his essay, by the time it was published Baudelaire had already spent many years using his position as a respected poet and writer, to champion the artists who most others were scoffing at and rejecting.
It was Baudelaire who stood bt Delacroix, and described his paintings as poetry while others dismissed the romantic artist as a heretic. It was Baudelaire who supported Courbet at his lowest moments, and it was Baudelaire who demanded that art of the present should not be about the past, but about modern life.
Many of the ideas he set out in the Painter of Modern Life, went on to be embodied in the founding principles of Impressionism.
He claimed that for the Sketch of Manners, the depiction of bourgeois life, there is a rapidity of movement which calls for an equal speed of execution from the artist.
Sound familiar? The essay goes on to feature several references to the word flaneur, the concept of a man about town, which Baudelaire was responsible for bringing to the publics attention.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.