Art Term

Flâneur

Flâneur is a French term meaning ‘stroller’ or ‘loafer’ used by nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire to identify an observer of modern urban life

Camille Pissarro, ‘The Little Country Maid’ 1882
Camille Pissarro
The Little Country Maid 1882
Tate

Baudelaire identified the flâneur in his essay The Painter of Modern Life (1863) as the dilettante observer. The flâneur carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. Such a figure can be seen featured in many impressionist paintings.

The flâneur has become an important figure for scholars, artists and writers and was taken up in the twentieth century by the Situationists.