We are grateful to Sylvie Brame and François Lorenceau for confirming the authenticity of this work.
Among Jean-François Raffäelli's most significant works are his representations of urban life during the late 19th Century in Paris. While the portraits of Raffäelli's associations within the literary, artistic and political circles document his socially ambitious milieu, it is the artist's landscapes that record his gradual artistic success and subsequent move from life in the rural suburbs into the centre of Paris in the early 1890s. Enjoying increasing prosperity, Raffäelli made a definitive shift in artistic focus to the more public views of the capital, producing numerous picture-postcard views of Parisian monuments and boulevards, such as la Place de la Bastille, la Place de la Concorde and le boulevard des Italiens. Unlike Pissarro's views from above, with a plunging perspective and high horizon line, Raffäelli stood at ground level to focus on the specific landmarks and to remain involved in the spirit and mood of unerring city life. Exemplifying how he had started to embrace the essence of modernity, he focuses not on the individual character of the inhabitants, but how the urban bourgeois figure represented merely a physical presence within the ever-changing spectacle of city life. La place de la Bastille evidences his increasing contacts with Degas and the Impressionists, for his painterly manner had loosened and more light floods his idyllic visions of the urban scene. Here, the cool pale tonality carried through the scene lends a certain elegance of form to a scene that is at once anecdotal and conventional yet stimulating and modern.