Though others have taken on the style and subject matter over time — continuing to this day — there are four artists that I associate with a particular approach to painting the subject of Paris during the Belle Epoch (around the turn of the twentieth century): Luigi Loir, Edouard Leon Cortès; Eugène Galien Laloue and Antoine Blanchard.
For lack of a better or more formal term, I’ve heard them referred to as simply “Painters of Paris”.
I might add Jean Béraud to that list, though his style wasn’t as close to the others. Neither was Loir, on the whole, but I think the origins of the style can be traced to him.
The particular style focuses on the beauty of the City of Light, and often portrays it thus — its shops, monuments, quays, boulevards, plazas and people highlighted with pools of color and light, both natural and artificial, set against lower chroma backgrounds of the city’s striking architecture.
Of the four painters, Eugène Galien Laloue (sometimes hyphenated as Eugène Galien-Laloue) is my favorite, both because I love his compositions, color choices and rendering style in general, and because he worked primarily in gouache, an often overlooked medium for which my admiration and fascination continues to grow.
Galien Laloue worked in oil as well, but reportedly preferred gouache because he could produce a salable painting in two days, rather than the week or more it took him for a oil that might sell for a comparable price.
Galien Laloue was prolfic, and while under contract to a single gallery, used several aliases, including J. Liwvin, E. Galiany and L. Dupuy, in order to continue to sell through other galleries.
Though he sketched on location, Galien Laloue preferred to paint in the controlled conditions of his studio. It looks as though he ruled out the perspective that is the basis of his architectural subjects in pencil, and often left the pencil showing as part of the finished work, even to the point that some indications of rows of window are only pencil, with little addition of linear details in paint.
This crossing of the border between painting and drawing, which gouache in particular facilitates, is one of the things I love about his work. He seems to have struck a wonderful balance between rendering and drawing, finish and sketch, detail and suggestion that I find particularly appealing.
I also enjoy his wonderful color choices, and his use of muted grays, overcast skies and the reflections of scenes in rainy pavement. In particular, Galien Laloue had a beautiful touch with portraying the city in snow, not just freshly fallen, but with the traffic of the day evident in tracks, ruts and swept away areas.
Many of his paintings of Paris are set in the late fall and winter. He also did oils of the countryside in springtime, and during World War I devoted himself to portrayals of soldiers in battle, though I find images of his work during this period are not prevalent on the web.
The best source I’ve found for high-resolution images of his work (which are particularly a treat) is to do a Google search of Bohnams.com: Eugene Galien Laloue site:bonhams.com, and then follow the links to indivudal pieces. You can do the same trick for Sotheby’s.
A great selection of medium sized images can be found in eight articles on One1more2time3’s Weblog, which is where I was introduced to Galien Laloue.
A good source for Eugene Galien Laloue biographical information and images is Rehs Galleries in NY, which frequently sells his work (and also has good info and images for Edouard Leon Cortes and Antoine Banchard). There is also a nice selection on Galerie Ary Jan.