This painting of a Parisian boulevard at night is a prestigious example from the height of the career of Konstantin Korovin, an artist considered to be the most important exponent of Russian Impressionism. He first encountered this new, modern style through his professor at the Academy in Saint Petersburg, Vasily Polenov. In 1885 he traveled to Spain and France, where he was captivated by the local Impressionists, and he fully mastered elements of their style. He exhibited with the Peredvizhniki (The Wanderers) art group and in 1909–1913 he taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. He made many visits to Paris, whose nightlife filled with lights and strange contrasts inspired him to create a number of canvases featuring Parisian boulevards at night. His paintings are remarkable for their vivid color, which he mastered with absolutely natural virtuosity, allowing the impasto paints to emerge from the surface of the painting with impressive precision. This painting also features accentuated bold color contrasts achieved through relaxed short strokes. The nervous impasto blows of the brush impart the effect of tense vibration to the painted surface while limiting descriptive details, solely using the painter’s skill and color as modes of expression.
Korovin was also an excellent stage designer and the principal artist for the Bolshoi Theater. In his work for the theater he also strove to convey the emotional mood of the play, creating decorations and costumes in his Impressionist style. In 1900 he curated the arts section of the Russian exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. A regular traveler to France, he settled there permanently in 1923 and was decorated with the Legion of Honor for his contributions to the arts.