Trinity House Paintings
Eugène Galien Laloue had three pseudonyms he painted as: J. Lievin after a soldier he met during the Franco-Prussian war, E. Galiany as 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 his birth certificate states “Gallien”. Despite his elusiveness, he depicted Paris and the surrounding landscape as a recorder of popular Parisian life. He balanced his architectural interest in Paris with several landscape views and was an equally if not more proficient draughtsman.
Laloue was born in 1854 in Montmartre, the eldest of nine children. His father, Charles, died when he was sixteen years old, after which point, his mother, Endoxie, found Eugène an accounting job. Shortly afterwards he enlisted in the military until the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871.
It has been speculated that Laloue’s change of heart to become a painter may have been a reaction against the bloody events of the Franco-Prussian war; to forget what he had seen. He worked as an illustrator for the French Railways in 1874 to depict the new rail track from Paris to the French provinces.
As a result Laloue exhibited for the first time in 1876 at the Museum of Reims, showing Le quai aux fleurs par la neige. In 1877 he exhibited for the first time at the annual Parisian Salon, showing En Normandie (In Normandy) as well as two gouaches. Thinking practically, he preferred executing gouaches since they were less time consuming as his oils and brought comparable prices. A man of many facets, he worked en plein air but did not enjoy walking through mud or grass. He had a reclusive personality, (perhaps the reason behind his numerous pseudonyms) preferring the solitariness of his studio to painting his works entirely on-site. Unlike many other artists as well, he did not like to travel and many of his views of other cities or countries were inspired by postcards and photographs, an increasing tendency with many artists as photography became a more established method of use.
Laloue’s personality kept him at a distance from his contemporaries who were working in his same manner. He was more concerned with the sale of his paintings, of which he kept scrupulous notes but still sold each painting for the same price. 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). He then took a five year sabbatical, during which time his daughter was born. His return to the Salon was in 1904.
During the first two decades of the twentieth Century he 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 reluctance to integrate himself with others, his paintings offer a record of late nineteenth and early twentieth 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 – no matter which season; he paid close attention to atmospheric and environmental changes on his canvasses. 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 other French and especially American artists and continued to paint scenes of Paris throughout his career. He died in his daughter’s house in Chérence, where they had taken refuge at the beginning of the Second World War, on April 18th, 1941.