There’s a little bit of Paris in Vancouver right now with the launch of the Art Gallery’s newest exhibit, which features drawings by seminal French modernists such as Degas, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec.

The Modern Woman, which opens on Saturday, borrows around 100 fragile works — many of which are never on display because of light sensitivity — from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

“The pieces ... provide a stunning overview of late 19th-century French art and the fascinating social evolution of the (time),” said Kathleen Bartels, director of the gallery.

“It also reflects the daily life and increasing independence of the French woman.”

The exhibit is divided into four sections — the nude, the private realm, the public realm and beyond the city — each of which looks at the daily lives and roles of women in a period of dramatic social change. The drawings depict private moments at home to public life in cafes.

“What came together when selecting these drawings ... was how intimately and vividly the artists captured the complexity of the Belle Epoque and the women who inhabited it,” said Thomas Padon, director of international partnership at the gallery.

“(This period) ushered in an innovative spirit in the arts, that of modernity,” he added. “It moves away from the long-established convention toward avant-garde art.”

Isabelle Julia, with the Musée d’Orsay, said it may seem odd to refer to the 140-year-old pieces as “modern,” but at the time they were innovative and provocative.