Pierre-Antoine Demachy's paintings may be the last testimony to Old Paris, before the artistic and cultural capital of the West—also known as the City of Light—underwent urban reforms in the second half of the 19th century.
Vista de París [Isla de Francia, Francia] desde de la Plaza del Delfín (1750/1780) by Pierre-Antoine DemachyMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim
A student of Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni (1695–1766), Demachy was accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris in 1755, where he became an esteemed Professor of Perspective.
In "View of Paris from the Place Dauphine," Demachy provides an architectural inventory of the main buildings along the banks of the Seine in the middle of the 18th century.
The painter's accurate depiction takes in a wide perspective that highlights the diversity of French society during the Ancien Régime: aristocrats in elegant carriages, the bourgeoisie on horseback, the needy on foot, and the magnificent shape of the Seine stretching into the background.
In the lower right corner of the painting is the old "La Samaritaine" pump, built at the beginning of the 17th century.
The equestrian statue of Henry IV of France, which was built in the same period, was commissioned by Queen Marie de' Medici and based on the statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.
To the left, on the bank of the Seine, is the neoclassical Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint), which was commissioned to be built in 1765.
Next to it is the Collège des Quatre-Nations (College of the Four Nations), now the Institute of France, which was built between 1662 and 1688.
The right of the scene is dominated by the Louvre Palace, with its Grand Gallery, Apollo Gallery, and Perrault's Colonnade. This work also offers a glimpse into the past, and into urban development that reveals the passing of time, with a focus on caring for and protecting the city's heritage.
Based on a text by Israel Delgado. Monthly magazine: "Edificaciones en el Arte" (Buildings in Art), July 2018. Museo Soumaya, Carlos Slim Foundation.