Edouard-Léon Cortès

Edouard-Leon Cortes
These seems to be an unofficial school of painting that included a number of post-Impressionist artists who specialized in painting views of Belle Époque Paris, and took particular interest in contrasting the browns and grays of buildings and overcast skies with the warm yellow and orange glow of windows lit by gaslight.

These included Eugene Galien-Laloue, Edouard-Léon Cortès, Luigi Loir, and somewhat later, Antoine Blanchard.

Cortès was perhaps the best known of them. His paintings of Paris, that often include famous monuments and places in the city, were popular in his time and his work continues to be in demand. Though his contrast of city lights and backgrounds that seem primed to showcase them to best advantage can seem a bit artifical at times, there is an undeniable visual charm to the way he lays out his compositions and in his bold renderings in brilliant patches and splashes of color.

Cortès was born within 20 miles of Paris, studied initially with his father, who was a a painter for the Spanish Royal Court, and later at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Cortès took inspiration from both classical and Impressionist styles, as well as his contemporary “painters of Paris”.

He frequently revisited the same subjects, and even the same viewpoints, painting the scenes in different light and weather conditions, and often painted the City of Lights reflected in its own rain-wet streets and sidewalks.

Perhaps the best online source for Cortès’ images is the the past lots selections of Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions, which are often zoomable to high resolution.

There is a good selection on Wikipaintings, with good size enlargements. Though smaller, a nice quick overview can be had at Encore Editions, and a more extensive selection, along with biographical background, can be found on Rehs Galleries (and here and here).

9 Replies to “Edouard-Léon Cortès”

  1. Hi. I’m from Japan. I’ve bookmarked and enjoyed this blog for years. Very nice site. I want Japanese people to get to know this site more. So I introduced this site on my blog with some images quoted from you. Please check it.

  2. Thanks again Charley, beautiful work, have been fortunate to see some of the original paintings, the brushwork is ‘ bold ‘ but seen at this small size, the paintings take on a whole different feel. Thanks.

  3. How I love such style! Details and spirit at the same time, vividness of colors, space of sky, architeture of the city – all in one!

  4. I knew his work and as I work on a Belle Epoque based comics, I thought I could use his paintings as documentation. But he is too much impressionist 🙂

  5. I especially love Cortes’ painting; they’re so vibrant and colorful, and the water reflections are perfectly beautiful!

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