Art History

Celebrate Bastille Day with French Art

On July 14th, the holiday known as Bastille Day is celebrated. It celebrates the actions of the French Revolutionaries who stormed the Bastille fortress and turned the tides during the French Revolutionary War. Celebrations are held throughout the country, but Paris is known for hosting the largest, with a giant parade and fireworks over the Eiffel Tower. This year, those events were canceled due to COVID.  At, we still feel that the French artists who have contributed to the history of art should be acknowledged. Here are some wonderful works of art to inspire you to celebrate the unity of France during this years Bastille Day holiday.

Vincent Van Gogh - On The Outskirts of Paris - Bastille Day French Art

Vincent van Gogh – On the Outskirts of Paris

A quiet moment away from the hustle and bustle is captured in On the Outskirts of Paris, by Vincent van Gogh. There’s a dream-like atmosphere created by the blurred brushstrokes and bright, beautiful colors that portrays a remote French location. The sun-drenched scene shows a moment of isolation in a cheerful light. Illuminating the lovely feeling of stepping out into nature and leaving the troubles of the city behind.

Jean Francois Raffaelli - Notre-Dame de Paris - Bastille Day French Art

Jean Francois Raffaelli – Notre-Dame de Paris

See Notre Dame as you’ve never seen it before with Notre-Dame de Paris by French Realist, Jean-Francois Raffaelli. Featured is the east side of the famed French cathedral on the Ile de la Cité. The gothic architecture is only a backdrop to the people on the streets. Two nuns walk by while an old man sits on the sidewalk with his dog, symbolically separated by a tree. Meanwhile, other Frenchmen wander in the background in this tribute to daily life.

Gustave Caillebotte - A Paris Street, Rainy Day - Bastille Day French Art

Gustave Caillebotte – A Paris Street, Rainy Day

One of the most remarkable paintings from the 19th century is A Paris Street, Rainy Day created by the French Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte. Photography was beginning to develop as an art form at the time. As a result, Caillebotte was fascinated by this new medium. Therefore, certain features of the painting mimic a photograph; for example, the cropping of the figures and the way the image is sharpest on the subjects in the middle ground.

Atelier de Jiel - Black Cat is a Paris Master Reproduction

Atelier de Jiel – Black Cat is a Paris Master

Part of a series by contemporary artist Atelier de Jiel, Black Cat is a Paris Master recalls Theophile Steinlen’s iconic poster art for famed Montmartre cabaret “Le Chat Noir”. The flattened style with outlined shapes is reminiscent of the French ‘cloissonism’ practiced by Bernard, Gauguin, and even Van Gogh. The combination of Paris’s iconic mansard roofs and the Eiffel tower will make any lover of French culture swoon.

Claude Monet - La Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June

Claude Monet – La Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June

In La Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June, Claude Monet took an artistic look at national pride in France.  It was intended to serve as a symbol of France’s recovery after being defeated in 1870. From his aerial perspective in this Rue Montorgueil painting, Monet shows the country coming together. For example, a true-to-life color palette is used, to help highlight the flags that wave fiercely as crowds gather.

Edgar Degas - The Green Dancer, 1879

Edgar Degas – The Green Dancer

The Green Dancer, by French Impressionist Edgar Degas, captures a dancer at center stage with back-up dancers. Degas was fascinated by female dancers, with most of his works being about dance and the Paris ballet company. The technical precision of their poses, together with bright color and tone, perfectly captures the moment as if in mid-performance. Subsequently, this was an important part of French culture and is still considered a popular pastime.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance

The mysterious and exciting atmosphere of the Moulin Rouge was a favorite subject of French Post-Impressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance perfectly captures that aura. In this piece, he perfectly recreates a scene at a Parisian nightclub. With bold, brilliant colors,he depicted a bustling atmosphere and highlighted two central female figures. As a result, it is considered an iconic piece of French history, brought to life by this painter’s skill.

We hope that this gives you a taste of the prominent French culture and a few of the amazing artists. More great masters can be found in our Best Sellers gallery, if you are looking for more inspiration for Bastille Day. Take a look and we are sure you will find the perfect piece to celebrate Bastille Day with French art.

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.