Baudelaire found his candidate, “The Painter of Modern Life,” in a fellow member of the fringes of society, an obscure illustrator named Constantin Guys. The result of the relationship between the poet and the illustrator, both inhabitants of la bohème, was a long essay, almost book length, which described the social condition Baudelaire called modernité. That essay was the famous The Painter of Modern Life . The poet states, “By ‘modernity,’ I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable…” Guys, an illustrator and a quick sketch artist, was the outsider, who, because of his position on the fringes, was able to produce hundreds of quick studies of all that was fast-moving and fleeting in modern life. Modernism, for both Baudelaire and for Guys, becomes defined by the concept of constant change, or what the art critic, Harold Rosenberg, would term, a hundred years later, “the tradition of the new.”
Jules Levallois: "Il nous récitait d'une voix précieuse, douce, flûtée, onctueuse, et cependant mordante, une énormité quelquonque, le Vin de l'assassin ou la Charogne . Le contraste était réellement saisissant entre la violence des images et la placidité affectée, l'accentuation suave et pointue au débit." It was in a calculated, gentle, musical, sophisticated and yet caustic voice that he recited some masterpiece, the Murderer's Wine or the Carcass . The contrast between his violent images and his affected nonchalance, his suave accentuation, his sharp delivery, was really striking.