The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeremy Tambling

Baudelaire: The Painter of Modern Life

  • Jeremy TamblingEmail author
Living reference work entry


The Painter of Modern Life written by Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) in the winter of 1859–1860 and published in 1863 as a series of newspaper pieces (feuilletons) in the November 26 and 28 and December 3 editions of the Figaro makes essential and seminal reading, for several reasons. It has profound implications for art criticism (turning it away from the tourist’s study of acknowledged masterpieces), and for discussions of beauty – the existence of which, and perception of which, becomes a kind of transgressiveness, rather than a Platonic ideal – and for analysis of modernity. Further, it gives a sense of a shift which has happened in ways of living and of seeing the city, which has implications for how a person perceives his or her own identity: it produces a new kind of “self-fashioning.” A significant influence on Walter Benjamin in the Arcades Project, the essay rethinks the topics of absolute values in art versus the modern, where values are fleeting, nature and art, and throughout, the relationship between beauty and fashion.


Paris Modernity Dandy Walter Benjamin Beauty Flâneur Edgar Allan Poe Prostitution Allegory Constantin Guys Fashion 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK