Le Theatre du Gymnase, boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle

by Edouard Leon Cortes

£25,000

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
DIMENSIONS
: (unframed) 13 x 18 inches (33 x 45.7 cm)
(framed) 19 x 24 inches (48.3 x 61 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Edouard Cortes’ (lower right)

This painting centres on the boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle – a wide Parisian street built in 1631 on the line of the obsolete 16th century city wall.

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    Edouard Léon Cortès was painting in an electrifying city, a city that was the artistic and cultural centre of the world, a city in which ladies of high fashion paraded about streets that were for the first time being freshly populated by omnibuses and cabs. The entertainment and nightlife of Paris was unequalled by any other city in the world and Cortès captured that moment. Despite two world wars and the introduction of the machine age, the Paris of Cortès remains primarily the city of the Belle Epoque. His paintings are often filled with nostalgia for the period.

    After a lifelong dedication to seizing the magic of Paris during its transition from the romantic Belle Epoque to the modern, twentieth century metropolis as we know it, Cortès has left the world a legacy of master paintings. Now found in the most prestigious collections throughout the world, his work continues to awe collectors.

    Wally Findlay Galleries, Palm Beach;
    The Estate of Lee Phillip Bell;
    The Private Collection of Mr. Alexander Avenard

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    Édouard Leon Cortès, of French and Spanish ancestry, was born in 1882. As an adolescent, he became fascinated with the arts and at seventeen began his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1901 he contributed a dramatic Parisian street scene at dusk to the Salon des Artistes Français, which brought him immediate fame. Later, as an active member of the prestigious Société des Artistes Français, Cortès exhibited his works yearly at the Société Nationale and the Salon des Independants in Paris.

     

    On the topic of Cortès and his relationship to Paris, biographer David Klein writes: “Paris changed during the years that Cortès painted it, and the changes appear in his paintings. Horses and carriages disappear in favour of cars and trams; women’s hourglass silhouettes and picture hats give way to boyish figures in short skirts and little furs, gas streetlights turn into neon signs and glaring headlights. But despite two world wars and the introduction of the machine age, the Paris of Cortès remains primarily the city of the Belle Epoque. His paintings are often filled with nostalgia for the period.

     

    The period we know today as La Belle Époque lasted from about 1880 to 1914. Many revolutionary ideas in politics, technology, science, poetry, music, literature and the fine arts emerged in Paris during this vibrant time. Paris was the cosmopolitan, fashionable stage on which the drama of the Belle Epoque was enacted. The city itself was in a state of dramatic change. The campaign of rebuilding undertaken by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann in the 1850’s, 60’s, 70’s yielded wide tree-lined avenues, extensive parks, and elegant golden-gray stone buildings. Parisians thronged the new boulevards, parks and theatres to see and to be seen. In 1888 the Figaro Illustré devoted a special issue to this “spectacle de la rue”, calling the boulevards “the true theatre of Paris”.

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