Gaining its name from the optimistic and peaceful period of time between 1871 and World War I, Belle Epoque means “beautiful period”, and occurred during the era of the Third French Republic. This period of economic, colonial, and scientific prosperity brought with it a flourishing artistic climate with numerous literal, musical, theatrical, and visual masterpieces being created.
The Eiffel Tower, which was constructed between 1887 and 1889, served as the entrance to the World’s Fair held in Paris. That same year, the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris was founded and showcased the now more mainstream styles of performance including can-can dancing. Belle Epoque dancers and singers were Paris celebrities and became immortalized by the poster arts of Toulouse-Lautrec.
Leading up to this period in 1865, the American Civil War was coming to a close, with France proposing to construct the Statue of Liberty as a joint effort with the United States. France would be responsible for the statue, with America constructing the pedestal. Created to celebrate the nation’s success in building a viable democracy, the statue would stand as a symbol of friendship between the French and American people.