19th Century European Paintings

A Paris Boulevard: Then and Now

By Mark Poltimore

S taying in Paris recently I decided to check out whether the view, in a painting we are selling in the 19th Century European Paintings sale on 6 June, was still there and how much it had changed since painted in 1876.

The painting in question was by the French artist Edmond Grandjean who trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1862 but little else is known about him.


His busy street scene is looking from the top of the Boulevard des Italiens, south-west down towards the Madeleine. The road on the left is the Rue de Richelieu, hence Le Cardinal café which can be seen behind the omnibus in the lower left hand side of the picture.

So, on a beautiful spring day I found the spot where Grandjean had set up his easel and took a few photographs. Amazingly Le Cardinal’ café is still there on the corner and the bust of Cardinal Richelieu is still above the awning. I did not venture inside as I was pushed for time.

Unfortunately the buildings on the right were later removed to allow the Boulevard Haussmann to connect with the Boulevard des Italiens and the Boulevard de Montmartre.


It is tempting to think that the man with the large canvas on his back is a portrait of Grandjean hawking his pictures. This work, however was considered a masterpiece as it was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1876, no 945. We have no idea what the asking price was then but in our upcoming sale in June we estimate this work could make between £200,000–300,000.

The 19th Century European Paintings sale is in London on 6 June

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