or me, the years between 1871 and 1914 represent
one of the most fascinating periods in the European history. As far as we know, there was nearly no
other period during which so many artists and scientists were contemporaries. Arts and sciences
developed with an incomparable speed and intensity. I will set up priorities on the years from about
1890 onwards which not only the French call the Belle Epoque - in the referring part I will talk about
the problem to date this period exactly. As a thread, a guiding line through the period, you find a
chronological synopsis which shows important historical, cultural and scientific events; far from being completed,
more events will be added from time to time.
ctually, when I started to develop
these web pages many years ago, I intended to illustrate the numerous facets of that period. This project, however,
turned out to be rather difficult because of the manifold legal clauses. On the other hand, many other informative sites
cover interesting topics of the Belle Epoque. Therefore, I decided to confine myself principally to presenting the epoch's
architecture and its accompanying arts. A certain focus will be upon the Art Nouveau which I appreciate very much.
will be very pleased to receive
your comments, suggestions, ideas and corrections.
"In its liberal idealism, the nineteenth century was honestly convinced that it was on the
straight and unfailing path toward being the best of all worlds. Earlier eras, with their wars, famines, and
revolts, were deprecated as times when mankind was still immature and unenlightened. But now it was merely a
matter of decades until the last vestige of evil and violence would finally be conquered, and this faith in an
uninterrupted and irresistible 'progress' truly had the force of a religion for that generation. One began to
believe more in this 'progress' that in the Bible, and its gospel appeared ultimate because of the daily new
wonders of science and technology. In fact, at the end of this peaceful century, a general advance became more
marked, more rapid, more varied. At night the dim street lights of former times were replaced by electric lights,
the shops spread their tempting glow from the main streets out to the city limits. Thanks to the telephone one could
talk at a distance from person to person. People moved about in horseless carriages with a new rapidity; they soared
aloft, and the dream of Icarus was fulfilled. Comfort made its way from the houses of the fashionable to those of the
middle class. It was no longer necessary to fetch water from the pump or the hallway, or to take the trouble to build
a fire in the fireplace. Hygiene spread and filth disappeared. People became handsomer, stronger, healthier, as sports
steeled their bodies. Fewer cripples and maimed and persons with goiters were seen on the streets, and all of
these miracles were accomplished by science, the archangel of progress. Progress was also made in social matters;
year after year new rights were accorded to the individual, justice was administered more benignly and humanely, and
even the problem of problems, the poverty of the great masses, no longer seemed insurmountable. The right to vote was
being accorded to wider circles, and with it the possibility of legally protecting their interests. Sociologists and
professors competed with one another to create healthier and happier living conditions for the proletariat.
Small wonder then that this century sunned itself in its own accomplishments and looked upon each completed
decade as the prelude to a better one. There was as little belief in the possibility of such barbaric declines
as wars between the peoples of Europe as there was in witches and ghosts. Our fathers were comfortably saturated
with confidence in the unfailing and binding power of tolerance and conciliation. They honestly believed that the
divergencies and the boundaries between nations and sects would gradually melt away into a common humanity and that
peace and security, the highest of treasures, would be shared by all mankind."
Stefan Zweig in 1941 in: The World of Yesterday, University of Nebraska