Source: Boulevard de la Madeleine in Winter – here is a recent addition to our available paintings by the 20th century French artist Antoine Blanchard (1910-1988). Boulevard de la Madeleine in Winter is a classic example from the early part of the artist’s Paris street scene series.
There are a series of eight streets that form one long, wide thoroughfare that stretch across Paris from La Madeleine to the Place de la Bastille; together they are referred to as Les Grands Boulevards and include Boulevard de la Madeleine, Boulevard des Capucines, Boulevard des Italians, Boulevard Montmartre, Boulevard Poissoniere, Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle, Boulevard St. Denis, and Boulevard St. Martin. (The French word boulevard originally referred to the flat summit of the defensive walls built around Paris; several Parisian boulevards replaced these old city walls; more generally, boulevards
encircle a city center, in contrast to avenues that radiate from the center.)
The boulevards were created in the 17th century with the removal of the heavy fortifications around the city, which became unnecessary with the offensive foreign policy of Louis XIV (1638-1715). The walls were pulled down and the ditches filled in, leaving a wide promenade, thus creating a modernized look for the city of Paris. During the 18th century, the boulevards became the place to see and be seen in one’s ornate carriage. The 19th century brought intellectuals and artisans to the boulevards; they congregated in the cafés that lined the streets.
Many of Paris’s main attractions, shops, and department stores line the boulevards or are close by; these include La Madeleine, The Opera(Opera Garnier), Café de la Paix, the Musée Grévin, the Palais dela Bourse, Porte St. Denis and Porte St. Martin.