Private collection, United Kingdom
Born on December 11 1854 in Montmartre to French-Italian parents, Eugène Galien Laloue studied under his father Charles Laloue, a set designer. His debut was almost exclusively as a painter in gouache of Parisian street scenes and Galien Laloue’s early works reflect his traditional training. He painted landscapes, coastal and river scenes in Normandy and around Paris, the Seine and the River Marne. In contrast to his later works, these show a broad technique with significant use of impasto. It was at the turn of the Century that Galien Laloue commenced his detailed gouaches depicting Paris and Parisian life.
During the Great War he painted scenes in the ruined towns behind the front line and continued to depict Paris in wartime. He turned to pastel and gouache in the late 1880s, exhibiting one of each in 1886, and in 1889 two gouaches at the Paris Salon. His paintings of the early 1900s accurately represent the era in which he lived: a happy, bustling Paris, ‘la Belle Époque’, with horse-drawn carriages, trolley cars and its first omnibuses. Galien Laloue’s works are valued not only for their contribution to 20th Century art, but for the actual history, which they document. He was a populariser of street scenes, usually painted in autumn or winter.
His work can be seen at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Louvier; Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Rochelle; Mulhouse, France. Galien Laloue has inspired and influenced many of yesterday’s and today’s artists, including renowned French impressionists Edouard Léon Cortès and Antoine Blanchard. Some artists or writers are content to have a pseudonym so as to disguise their work. Eugène Galien Laloue was particularly adept at establishing several identities, since over the course of his career he worked under three pseudonyms: ‘J. Lievin’ – after a soldier he met during the Franco-Prussian war, ‘E. Galiany’ – an Italianized version of his own names, and ‘L. Dupuy’ – after Dupuy Léon who lived in his same area. While these are three confirmed names that he used, there is the possibility that he used other names as well. Even his name ‘Galien’ is questionable, since on occasion he spelled it with one ‘L’ and on his birth certificate it is spelled ‘Gallien’. Why the artist went to such great lengths to perplex audiences and historians is the question that remains to be answered. Despite preoccupation with the reclusive nature of this man, he depicted Paris and the surrounding landscape with his cool palette; in doing so he became another recorder of popular Parisian life.