More Than a Name: Eugène Galien-Laloue

Born in December 1854 in Montmartre to French-Italian parents, Eugène Galien Laloue studied under his father Charles Laloue, a set designer. 

Galien-Laloue studied under Charles Laloue and made his debut at the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1877. His first training was in architecture; this built the foundations for the style and subject matter you see in Galien-Laloues’ work, from the streets of Paris to natural rural landscapes.

Galien-Laloue was brought up in a city of ever changing structural advances. From deconstructing older houses to widening boulevards, he recorded these changes in his works. 

His debut was almost exclusively as a painter in gouache of Parisian street scenes and Galien Laloue’s early works reflect his traditional training.

More Than A Name: Eugene Galien Laloue

Eugène Galien-Laloue is known widely as a School of Paris or Belle Époque painter. Most people are familiar with his Parisian street scenes that are similar to those by Luigi Loir and Edouard Cortes. They are often works on paper done with watercolour and gouache, though he is known to have worked in a multitude of media including pen, pencil, ink, and oil. These street scenes have become highly collected and desired as they were even during his lifetime.

The Story of Eugène Galien-Laloue

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.

He continued throughout his years to show his works there with great success. In recent years, his work has enjoyed an international resurgence in popularity.

Laloue Place de la République

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’. 

As he was under contract to particular galleries and not allowed to show with others, he often painted under aliases. This allowed him to paint something other than the commercially salable street scenes and to have artistic freedom. An alias gave him the ability to sell his more serious works and to make sales outside his dealer’s gallery

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

Eugène Galien Laloue was a versatile painter and it should be noted that this was partially because he was such a superb and facile draftsman. His attention to detail and accuracy of his perception set him above other street scene painters.

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