Santiago Rusiñol initially adopted a conventional academic style. In 1889 he moved to Paris with his great friend and fellow Catalan Ramón Casas, where both artists were introduced to new styles and absorbed the more diverse aspects of the Paris art scene at the time. Rusiñol was fasinated by the works of the English pre-Raphaelites, the French and Belgian Symbolists and, of course, the Impressionists. In 1890 and 1891 they exhibited their Impressionist-influenced Parisian scenes at the Sala Pares, Barcelona, which established them at the forefront of the newly emergent Catalan Modernisme, a movement that included writers, musicians, architects and designers.
An intellectual, Rusiñol was a founder of the Moderniste festivals at Sitges; the second festival in 1893 signalled Modernisme's move from Impressionism to Art Nouveau and Symbolism. From 1897 Rusiñol was associated with the artists and intellectuals centred on the café Els Quatre Gats which included the young Picasso, who soon rebelled against the decorative symbolism of Rusiñol's generation.