The previous examples were optimistic in tone as if their artists were looking forward to societal progress. Daumier’s Massacre, Rue Transnonian and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa reflect concerns over governmental corruption and the need for social reform. Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon depicts the leisure activities of the growing urban middle class. The evolution and popularity of photography, evidenced by Robinson’s Fading Away, implies a middle class market. Rodin’s The Age of Bronze represents a common man without aristocratic or Neoplatonic idealism. And Gauguin’s Day of the Gods documents the intellectual curiosity in peoples around the world.

However, was this cultural evolution heading in the right direction? By the beginning of the 20th century, many had become disillusioned with “modernism.” The urbanization of the workforce separated laborers from their family heritage. City life was impersonal and fast paced. Capitalism resulted in a great disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots.” Colonialization of the third world compromised many nations’ integrity. And the increase in technology, while beneficially applied to fields such as health care, also contributed to the largest militarization in human history. By 1914, W.W.I would destroy the last vestige of optimism in Europe.