Watch 1915 Video of Monet, Renoir, Rodin & Degas: The New Motion Picture Camera Captures the Innovative Artists

His­to­ry’s most respect­ed painters all gave their lives to their art. We can almost call that a require­ment of the artist who wish­es their work to attain immor­tal­i­ty, but as for the mor­tal artists them­selves — well, they’ve all got to get out of the house some­time or anoth­er. That rule held even for Edgar Degas, 19th- and ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry painter, sculp­tor, and reluc­tant impres­sion­ist whose body of work com­mands many ded­i­cat­ed exhi­bi­tions even in the 21st cen­tu­ry. In the clip above, you can see one of his excur­sions onto the streets of Paris, cap­tured in 1915 with the then-new inven­tion known as the motion pic­ture cam­era.

Degas, who would die in 1917, had by the time of this walk reached his eight­ies, hav­ing put his artis­tic work behind him at least three years before. With his long­time res­i­dence on rue Vic­tor-Massé just about to go under the wreck­ing ball, he moved over to Boule­vard de Clichy, where he lived out his days walk­ing the streets in the very man­ner we see in this snip­pet of film.

But even as Degas roamed Paris so rest­less­ly and aim­less­ly, oth­er French painters and sculp­tors did the work that would put their own names into the art-his­to­ry pan­theon. In the video just above, you can see a 74-year-old Claude Mon­et — also at quite an advanced age for the time — doing a bit of out­door paint­ing in his gar­den at Giverny in 1915, the very year we saw Degas strolling past us with his hat and umbrel­la.

Here, you can see sev­er­al shots of the sculp­tor Auguste Rodin in action, also in 1915, two years before his death, as Mike Springer pre­vi­ous­ly wrote here. The clip’s first sequence “shows the artist at the columned entrance to an uniden­ti­fied struc­ture, fol­lowed by a brief shot of him pos­ing in a gar­den some­where. The rest of the film, begin­ning at the 53-sec­ond mark, was clear­ly shot at the pala­tial, but dilap­i­dat­ed, Hôtel Biron, which Rodin was using as a stu­dio and sec­ond home.”

Mike also cov­ered the fourth French-artist film from 1915 we have here, three min­utes of footage of Auguste Renoir in which “we see the 74-year-old mas­ter seat­ed at his easel, apply­ing paint to a can­vas while his youngest son Claude, 14, stands by to arrange the palette and place the brush in his father’s per­ma­nent­ly clenched hand.” Though in sev­er­al ways debil­i­tat­ed by age, Renoir con­tin­ued to cre­ate, and you can read more about his strug­gle, as well as the project of the young film­mak­er who shot sev­er­al of these now-invalu­able pieces of film, at the orig­i­nal post. And if you want to see more of these artists you may know only as names from art-his­to­ry text­books brought to life, if only for a few moments, have a look at our roundup of icon­ic artists at work.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Icon­ic Artists at Work: Rare Videos of Picas­so, Matisse, Kandin­sky, Renoir, Mon­et, Pol­lock & More

Rare Film of Sculp­tor Auguste Rodin Work­ing at His Stu­dio in Paris (1915)

Aston­ish­ing Film of Arthrit­ic Impres­sion­ist Painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1915)

Claude Mon­et at Work in His Famous Gar­den at Giverny: Rare Film from 1915

Impres­sion­ist Painter Edgar Degas Takes a Stroll in Paris, 1915

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Addé says:

    Thank you so much for exhum­ing those rarely seen doc­u­ments!
    But, isn’t it unfair, not to cred­it the author of those films, the, then young Sacha Gui­t­ry, whom we see inter­view­ing Claude Mon­et?
    Anec­dot­i­cal­ly, when Rodin was see­ing the cam­era film­ing him, he would stand still, as for a pho­to­graph, not quite under­stand­ing what cin­e­matog­ra­phy was…
    Best regards,

  • Fray Tomas Tasmania says:

    “Video” in 1915? Please!! “Film cam­era”!!

    Greet­ings from Spain

  • gabrielle says:

    I’m stunned to see these mag­nif­i­cent artists. Wish I knew what Renoir was say­ing as well. Thanks for post­ing this!

  • Joe Marvy says:

    “Film to Video” trans­fer.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.