France has produced many world-famous painters, and several influential schools of painting, including impressionism, were developed here. Among French Mannerist painters of the 16th century were Jean Clouet and his son François; 17th-century baroque artists included Georges de La Tour, Nicolas Poussin, and Claude Lorrain. The most renowned French rococo masters of the 18th century were Jean-Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Jean Fragonard, Jean Chardin, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Paris became the chief art center of Europe in the 19th century.
Jacques-Louis David, whose highly influential career began in the last quarter of the 18th century, was most active in the early 19th century, as were the romantic painters Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault. Noted realist artists of the mid-19th century were Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Jean François Millet, and Camile Corot. The impressionist school, influenced by Édouard Manet, emerged around 1872; its most important members were the painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre Auguste Renoir.
Major French postimpressionist painters of the late 19th century were Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Signac; also active in this period were Henri Rousseau and Gustav Moreau. Internationally known French artists of the 20th century include Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Georges Rouault, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Pierre Bonnard, and Jean Dubuffet. The artist Pablo Picasso was born in Spain but settled in Paris in the early 1900s.
France has also produced many influential sculptors. Jean Goujon and Germain Pilon were famous 16th-century Mannerist sculptors; in the 17th century Pierre Puget sculpted in the baroque style; Puget inspired the 18th-century French rococo sculptors Jean Baptiste Pigalle and Claude Michel. Leading 19th-century sculptors were François Rude, Antoine Louis Barye, and Jean Baptiste Carpeaux. The most important 19th-century sculptor, however, was Auguste Rodin. In the early 20th century Romanian-born Constantin Brancusi and Italian-born Amedeo Modigliani both worked in Paris. Noted artists Marcel Duchamp and Jean Arp also sculpted in Paris in the 20th century.
France is renowned for its great Gothic churches, built from the 12th to 15th century. Particularly significant are the abbey church at Saint-Denis, the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, and the cathedrals at Amiens, Chartres, Paris, and Reims. Splendid Renaissance structures include the palace at Fontainebleau and the famous châteaux of the Loire River valley.
The outstanding baroque buildings in France are the neoclassicized enlargements of the enormous royal palace at Versailles and the Louvre, in Paris. Among the outstanding structures of the 19th century are the Second Empire Paris Opéra (1861-1875) of Charles Garnier and the wrought-iron Eiffel Tower (1889), the symbol of Paris. The pioneering 20th-century architect Auguste Perret and the influential Le Corbusier (a Swiss living in Paris) were noted for designing daring structures, mainly of concrete and steel. © "France" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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