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Photograph - Paris, last Bastille Day before the War

Paris, last Bastille Day before the War

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    1939 (photographed)
    1993 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bing, Ilse, born 1899 - died 1998 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Ilse Bing Wolff

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 913, box J

Ilse Bing (1899-1998) was one of several leading women photographers in the inter-war period. Born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt, she initially pursued an academic career before moving to Paris in 1930 to concentrate on photography. In the early 1930s Bing had been a prolific photographer, well-known for her modernist, journalistic city scenes.
In 1937 she married the pianist and musicologist Konrad Wolff. This image, taken two years later, is tinged with a foreboding of sadness and memory. The year that Bing took this photograph, 1939, she and her husband were interned in separate camps in the South of France as enemy aliens, and in 1941 emigrated to New York. The sense of ominous foreboding is present in this cloudy cityscape. To add to the poignancy it was taken on Bastille Day, usually a national day of celebration in France.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of the Paris skyline on the last Bastille day before the second World War

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)


1939 (photographed)
1993 (printed)


Bing, Ilse, born 1899 - died 1998 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

'ILSE BING 1939 / 1993 / Paris last bastille day before the war / Champs Elysees'
Hand written in pencil on reverse by Bing

'ILSE BING / 1939'
Hand written in black ink in the bottom left hand corner of the image

'Paris last Bastille Day before the war'
Hand written in pencil on reverse by Bing


Height: 28 cm sheet, Width: 35.4 cm sheet, Height: 23.6 cm image, Width: 33.3 cm image

Descriptive line

'Paris, last Bastille Day before the War', photograph by Ilse Bing (1899-1998), 1939, printed later

Subjects depicted

Sky; Clouds; Buildings




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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