Jean-François Raffaelli's image of a formally dressed elderly couple walking slowly behind their dog through the streets of Paris is a powerful image, laden with pathos, but softened by a sense of tender and wry detachment, which avoids all sentimentality in favour of a strong sense of realism.
The austere and rather frieze-like composition emphasises the couples stooping pose and slow progress, almost as if they are struggling against a headwind. Their firm expressions of determination suggest they have weathered a long and difficult life together. But the presence of the dog and their interlinked arms also hint at domestic happiness.
The couple's formal dress suggest that they might be returning from a formal outing possibly a funeral or a visit to the mairie. This rather gritty narrative is underscored by a monochromatic palette, and a profoundly urban background, instantly recognizable as Paris. These various elements combine to produce a complex picture which reveals an artist with a profound understanding and love of the city and its inhabitants.