Eugene Galien-Laloue

(1854 - 1941)


Eugène Galien-Laloue (French, 1854–1941) Born in Paris, France on December 11, 1854 to French-Italian parents, Eugène Galien-Laloue lived and worked for most of his life in Montmartre. He is the oldest of eventually nine children. His father, Charles, died when he was sixteen years old. After which point, his mother, Endoxie, found him a job at the local notary. He left school to fill the position. But shortly after, he felt the nationalistic urge to enlist in the military. Quitting his job and faking his name in 1871, he left for his military duty which led him through the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871. By then, he had decided to become a painter. For such an eager participant in the military to turn immediately to painting must have been a reaction against the bloody events of the Franco-Prussian war, a way to forget what he had seen. In 1874, he was employed by the French Railway lines as an illustrator, depicting the rail track that was being laid from Paris to the provinces. Concurrently, he began painting the surrounding landscapes as well. From the beginning of his career and perhaps spurred by his travels along the railway lines, Galien-Laloue became interested in showing the natural environment. He was an active participant in the annual Parisian Salons until 1889 where he exhibited two gouaches, Bernay (Bernay) and Bords de la Meuse (Banks of the Meuse). After this point, he took a five-year sabbatical; during which time, his daughter was born. He returned to the exhibition in 1904 with Le Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle (The Bonne Nouvelle Boulevard). He also was submitting his works to exhibitions in Angers and Saint Quentin. During the first two decades of the 20th century, he also exhibited at Dijon, Orléans, Versailles, Roubaix, Saint Etienne, Bordeaux, Monte Carlo, Hautecoeur, among several other cities. As World War I broke out, he was exempt from military service because he had volunteered for the Franco-Prussian war. He was too old to take part in the war. Instead, he took to his canvas and depicted scenes of soldiers in the midst of battle, paying close attention to the setting and other details such as their costumes and the action of their involvement. His own previous military experience must have inspired his depictions; since in his military scenes, his figures are given a more prominent role than in either his Parisian scenes or his landscape paintings. He identified with these soldiers. Galien-Laloue continued to paint until 1940, when he broke the arm with which he held his brush. Despite his reclusive nature and his reluctance to integrate himself with others, his paintings offer a record of late 19th and early 20th century Paris, focusing not so much on the relationship between its citizens but more so on the architectural aspects of the city. He moved out of Paris many times to depict the landscapes of Normandy and the surroundings of Barbizon, making his home for a short time in Fontainebleau. While his Parisian scenes were often of the fall and winter, he preferred to document the landscape during the brighter months of spring and summer. He also documented life along the canals and banks of the sea and rivers, showing an interest in maritime exploits. He had become very popular with both French and especially American artists and continued to paint the same scenes of Paris throughout his career. He died in his daughter’s house in Chérence, where they had taken refuge at the beginning of World War II, on April 18, 1941. 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.
Anne-French Fine Arts
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