Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dead French in L.A.: Artist Paul De Longpre 1911 "Le Roi des Fleurs"

Paul de Longpré (1855–1911), a French flower painter, worked mainly in the United States. He was born in Lyon, France, and was entirely self-taught. From his twelfth year he practiced successfully in Paris as a painter of fans. At 21 he first exhibited at the Salon. Having lost his money by the failure of a Paris bank, he moved in 1890 to New York and in 1896 held an exhibition of flower pieces which secured him instant recognition.

In 1899 he moved to California and two years later built a beautiful house at Prospect Avenue (Hollywood Boulevard) and Cahuenga Boulevard, which became celebrated for its magnificent flower gardens.

"The mansion and gardens Paul de Longpre built not only drew Hollywood society but served as a lure for new property buyers and tourists. So many visitors came to see 'Le Roi des Fleurs' that the P.E. Railway added a trolley spur on Ivar Avenue to deposit them closer to the estate. Tours of the house and gardens, along with prints of his floral paintings, supported the de Longpre family until the artist’s death in 1911. After his family returned to France, the house and gardens were demolished for their valuable real estate, and de Longpre’s paintings–romantic still-lifes of roses, orchids and the like–fell permanently out of fashion. If not for De Longpre Avenue, most Hollywooders today would not recognize his name, let alone his art."

-- From "Under the Hollywood Sign"

De Longpré painted only perfect specimens of flowers; with delicacy of touch and with feeling for color he united scientific knowledge, and he also knew how to give expression to the subtle essence of the flowers. The finest of his paintings include "Double Peach Blossoms" and "White Fringed Poppies" (1902) - both widely known through popular reproductions.

There is also a street and a park named for him in Hollywood, California.

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