alla prima: rapid painting using just the three primary colors--yellow, blue and red--as well as white to obtain a wide chromatic range, often mixing colors on the canvas, synonymous with spontaneity and freshness

Barbizon painters: the painting school preceding the Impressionists in which painters worked near the village of Barbizon on the outskirts of the Forest of Fontainebleau; the beginning of working en plein air.

chiaroscuro: the technique of suggesting three-dimensional form by varying tones of light and dark paint.

impasto: a thick, protruding area of paint, often applied with the back of a palette knife.

Impressionism: that collection of styles begun in the late 1860's and continuing through the mid 1880's characterized by authentic representation of color and light that reveal the subject and forms to the eye; broken brushwork of unblended, contrasting colors; soft focus; and the visible marks left by the painter. Composition often used asymmetric balance rather than the symmetrical balance of the Renaissance. Figures were occasionally cut off at the painting's edges. The motifs were rural (recreational rather than working peasants) or, more frequently, urban subjects from everyday life at the time rather than historic, mythological, idealized, or religious subjects. The Impressionists often portrayed middle-class or well-to-do people at leisure on the boulevards, at the seaside, the riverbank, the café, the racetrack, the park. Ultimately the Impressionist movement, involving independent exhibitions rather than the government-sponsored Salon, and eschewing instruction at the tradition-bound Académie des Beaux-Arts, which was rigid in subject matter, composition, even a prescribed method of laying on paint, toppled the whole academic system of instruction, vast juried exhibitions, and national prizes.

motif: the subject being painted.

plein air; en plein air: painting outdoors in front of the motif.

Salon: the annual juried art show sponsored by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in which thousands of works are displayed close together in the Grand Palais in Paris. Each artist is permitted to submit only two works, and there are no substitutions if those are not accepted. The Salons were, in effect, government-subsidized and government-directed arbiters of artistic merit, and became the battleground between the traditional and the modern.

shade: degree of darkness of a hue (color) with reference to its mixture with black.

tint: degree of lightness of a hue (color) with reference to the amount of white added.

value: the lightness or darkness of a hue (color).


à votre santé: to your health; a toast

Allons!: Let's go!

amour: love, affection

amoureux: lover, sweetheart

as: an extremely narrow open kayak made of wooden slats, paddled with a double-bladed paddle

balançoire: a swing

barque: a boat

blinis à la russe: small, light pancakes of Russian origin spread with melted butter or sour cream, often topped with caviar or smoked salmon.

bon chance: good luck

boulangerie: bakery

bouquiniste: seller of used books, cards, and prints from the traditional green metal boxes attached to the quay walls along the Seine near the Louvre on the Right Bank and the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank.

canaille: riffraff

canot: any of various types of small pleasure craft, pronounced "ca-no."

canotage: boating recreation, pronounced "ca-no-tahge."

canotier: a male boater; a straw hat worn by a boater, pronounced "ca-no-tee-ay."

canotière: a female boater, pronounced, "ca-no-tee-ere."

chahut: a wild dance similar to the cancan but done by couples kicking and imitating animals, pronounced "cha-hu."

chanteuse: female singer

chérie: dear, darling

collaboratrice: female collaborator

cordoneur: executioner who pulls the cord that drops the guillotine blade

crémerie: dairy for selling of milk products; a very small neighborhood café serving a limited menu

de rigueur: done strictly or according to precise social order

dimanche: Sunday

fait divers: a miscellaneous news item, often entertaining or with opinion implied in the telling of it.

Felicitations!: Congratulations!

femme de la rue: a prostitute, literally a woman of the street

Fêtes Nautiques: festival of nautical events such as races of various classes of rowboats and river jousting, together with bankside entertainments similar to a fair.

flâneur (masc.), flâneuse (fem.; rare): a commentator on contemporary society who strolls the boulevards observing human behavior and commenting upon it in articles, often with a critical edge to the commentary. The flâneur, impeccably dressed after the British fashion, prides himself on staying abreast of even minor news, considers the boulevards his observatories, and adopts a cool aloofness.

galette: a pinwheel-shaped pastry or cake

grenouille: frog

Grenouillère, La: the rustic and rowdy floating restaurant and dance floor situated on a barge about a quarter mile south (downriver) of La Maison Fournaise on the Ile de Croissy. Boat rental, swimming costume rental, changing cabins.

guinguette: a riverside restaurant with outdoor tables offering music and dancing, and sometimes boat rentals; often rustic.

hôtel particulier: urban private attached house in a block of connected buildings, having five or six stories above the ground floor, often with a business on the street level and the servants' quarters on the upper level.

J'en suis: I am one.

jouteur: jouster

maison: private house; part of the name of a business or restaurant

maison particulière: private, unattached house, having one or two stories above the ground floor

matelot: sailor of a pleasure sailboat

merdre: shit

mère: mother

Mon Dieu!: My God!

moulin: windmill

mouchards: police spies, informers

homme galant: an elegant, genteel man obliging and attentive to ladies

moi: me

Montmartre d'en bas: the lower reaches of Montmartre

Montmartre d'en haut: upper Montmartre, on the Butte

Montmartrois (male), Montmartroise (female): person living in Montmartre

papillon: butterfly

Papillon et fils: Monsieur Papillon and Son

parisien (male), parisienne (female): Parisian

passerelle: footbridge

père: father

périssoire: a long, narrow canoe made of wooden slats, paddled with a double-bladed paddle as a kayak is paddled.

petit bleu: A red petit vin, named for the circles left from a bottle on a tablecloth which turn blue after several washings.

petit vin: It doesn't mean a little wine, but wine made at a small winery which doesn't produce great quantities, but very fine smaller yields.

peuple, le: the people, with particular reference to the commoners

plus vite: faster!

Prix d'honneur: prize of honor

promenoir: a lane in a music hall or pleasure garden intended for promenading.

Quel idiot je suis!: What an idiot I am!

quatorzième: fourteenth; an additional person invited to a dinner party so there would not be thirteen people, which would be a bad omen.

robe d'intérieur: dressing gown

Rochefort: a particular prison

sou: the smallest denomination of coin in the 19th century

tintaine: the inclined platform on a jousting barque raised two meters above the water level where the jouster stands

vie en rose, la: seeing the world through rose-colored glasses

Voilà!: There; there it is; behold

voile: sail

youpi!: yippee!

Zouave: soldier in the Algerian infantry fighting for France; fierce fighters; colorfully costumed in blousy pants, cummerbund, and fez.

Zut! an exclamation similar to Shoot!


bohemian: one who is unconventional in living habits, especially an artist, writer, or musician who appears to lead a free-and-easy life but who often suffers poverty; a term applied to people of Montmartre, or to gypsies.

catboat: a small sailboat with a single mast positioned far forward near the bow to allow for a larger sail.

demi-monde: the class of women who have lost social standing due to sexual promiscuity.

fiacre: a small carriage for hire

landau: a four-wheeled carriage having two face-to-face passenger seats, driven by a coachman.

phaeton: a four-wheeled carriage with folding tops, not driven by a coachman but by the owner.

salon: a regular social gathering in the home of an educated or wealthy person during which art, theater, literature, politics or other cultural topics are discussed.

soubrette: In theater, (a) a lady's maid or maidservant, especially one involved in intrigue, (b) any pretty, flirtatious, or frivolous young woman character.

victoria: an elegant four-wheeled vehicle with plush upholstery and a collapsible top.

yole: a rowboat in which a cane seat with a backrest faces forward for the rider who manages left and right cords to adjust the rudder, while the rower's back is in the direction of movement; designed for social interaction, not for racing.