This watercolour illustrates the close relationship between Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828) and Thomas Shotter Boys. Another watercolour by Bonington sold in these Rooms 17 June 1975, lot 89 was taken from almost the exact same spot. The work by Bonington was executed circa 1827-1828, when Boys was in Paris. It is clear that Boys was aware of Bonington's work and that the two were familiar. Bonington executed several other versions of the subject, and indeed two passed through the salerooms soon after his death; the first was at Sotheby's, 30 June 1829, lot 209, and the second at Christie's, 28 May 1835, lot 59, View of Paris, with the Tuileries and the Pont Royal: a capital drawing (11 gns to Colnaghi's). The present drawing may even possibly be the latter of these two versions, as it was formerly attributed to Bonington.
The Musée Carnavalet, Paris, possesses a smaller watercolour by Boys of the Le Pont Royal et la Cour des Comptes en Construction, dated 1833, which is closely related to the present drawing (6¾ x 11 1/8 in. Inv.D. 5867, Collection M. Asse; see Dessins Parisiens des XIXe et XXe siècles, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, 1976, no. 9). It is taken from exactly the same position and is very similar in the delineation of the architecture although the figures and shipping are changed. The present version is dateable to circa 1831 and is similar in conception to Pont des Arts, Paris of the same year formerly in the Newall collection, sold in these Rooms on 13 December 1979, lot 5.
In breadth of handling and composition Boys may well have been trying to emulate Girtin rather than the more intimate scale of Bonington. It is known that Boys admired Girtin's A Selection of Twenty of the Most Picturesque Views in Paris and its Environs, 1802. In a letter of 1833 Boys wrote to Henry Mogford 'I have a folio full of good material. I am about a work on Paris to follow up Girtin's... I intend to do 'Paris as it is'...' These eventually appeared in 1839 as Picturesque Architecture in Paris etc. Possibly in the letter Boys was referring to the type of drawing represented by the present watercolour.