The Barre Basin At Le Havre Harbor by Eugène Galien Laloue under the Pseudonym of Jacques LIEVIN.
This gorgeous Oil on Canvas painting show the Havre Harbor from the perspective of the Barre Bassin.
Under the Empire and then the Third Republic, Le Havre experienced a real golden age linked to the general world growth.
The painter offers here a calm vision of a port that had risen to the top of the European rankings.
Le Havre was one of those ports that benefited from the shift of exchanges from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
If it still kept a fishing activity, it privileged commerce and became a pole of departure and arrival of numerous commodities.
Emigrants to America gained days at sea compared to departures from Genoa or Hamburg.
The flow of expensive but light products fed a large international market specialized in tropical foodstuffs.
Traders brought them from all over the world to redistribute them, by coastal shipping and soon by rail, throughout France and Europe.
The need to store and preserve this heap of goods justified the creation of specific buildings, the docks.
At the same time, the city grew in size and population (20,000 people in Le Havre in 1800, 120,000 in 1890), and then acquired industrial facilities linked to the port, such as the shipyards.
In this painting we see the Docks on the right-hand side and the ships waiting to load men and goods.
The sky shows a light fog lifting in the early morning, a typical weather for Le Havre in the spring.
The haze is giving way to the rising sun on the lower register.
The harbor water shade balances perfectly the sky while the ships masts are masterfully depicted…..
As noted by Noé Willer in the Catalogue Raisonné retracing Galien Laloue’s life , ‘Le Triomphe de PARIS’ :
“There are some painters who are easier than others to define’ Eugène Galien Laloue is particulary difficult in this regard.
I know of no other artist who worked under so many pseudonyms.
Eugène Galien Laloue contributed to this confusion himself, covering his tracks well, perhaps because he had an exclusive contract with a major gallery?”
Willer goes on:
“After long and tedious research into various administrative and civil records, regional and national archives, museums, salons and exhibitions catalogues we can today confirm that J. Lievin, E. Galiany and L. Dupuy are all pseudonyms used by Eugène Galien Laloue.
He may have used upon occasion other names, as well.
The most likely origin for the name Lievin was Galien Laloue’s friendship during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 with a soldier named Jacques who came from the town of Lieven.
It was in honor of this man that Galien Laloue seems to have adopted the name.
The subjects, the style, the colors, as well as the works that were kept by the family of Galien Laloue are sufficient proof of the veracity if this pseudonym.”
‘There are also mysteries about his name itself. He signed “Galien” with one “L”, but there are two “L”s in many of his official papers.
Was Galien his first name or his family name? In fact, on his birth certificate in the city hall of Montmartre, Gallien (with two”L”s) is listed as his second name, though it is known that Galien Laloue’s father was Charles Laloue, a set designer.
Surprisingly, many reference books of the time list Charles Laloue as the artist’s uncle.’
When his father died, Eugène Gallien Laloue- the oldest of nine children- was only 16 years old. His mother, Endoxie, found him a job at a notary and he had to leave school.
Eugène however felt the calling of his country at the start of the Prussian war, thus leaving his job, faking his age and enlisting in the army.
By the time he had returned home from the Prussian war it seems that his vocation as a painter was already a fact.
Upon his return to civilian life, he was employed by the railroads as an illustrator. His role was to paint the railroad tracks between Paris and the provinces.
At the same time, he painted the surrounding countryside, carefully choosing the season and time of day.
Interestingly, while later he preferred painting Paris in the Fall or Winter, taking advantage of the water puddles to reflect the city lights, his Countryside painting always reflected Spring or Summer, full of warmth and tranquility….
His training appears to us as most original, more practical than theoretical, for a young artist. It seems that he learned his art in a more academic way from a certain Mr. C. Laloue, probably his uncle.
In 1876, he exhibited for the first time at the Museum of Rheims, “Le Quai aux Fleurs par la Neige”.
The following year he participated in the Salon des Artistes Français where he presented two gouaches and an oil painting “En Normandie”. From 1877 until 1914, Galien Laloue was present every year at the Salon apart from 4 years between 1898 and 1903, due to the birth of his daughter.
Galien Laloue was rather reclusive, preferring to work in the solitude of his studio and rarely painted from life. His views of cities or provincial landscapes were usually based on postcards or photographs.
His stern personality kept him from mingling with other painters that worked in Paris.
As best expressed by Noé Willer in the Catalogue Raisonné:
“…He was not eccentric but always conservative, practically a royalist. He was obsessed with his painting. In his private life he found simplicity alluring: he married three sisters, one after the other (beginning with the youngest and ending with the oldest). They had all lived next door to him. He lived a monastic life. All worldly pursuits, games, alcohol, the pleasure of the flesh were not for him. Riding his bicycle to places in Paris to paint was his only physical exercise…”
Though he painted Paris all his life, it was not always known that only sketches were done on site. He would then return to the solitude of his studios and ask his family to pose in costume for all the rest, shunning the long hours ‘in situ’.
However, the fame of his views of Paris should not make us forget that he was attached to other subjects. He also painted beautiful landscapes of Normandy and the surroundings of Barbizon and the forest of Fontainebleau.
In his tiny gouaches Galien-Laloue rendered every detail of fin-de-siècle Parisian architecture with absolute precision, but in his landscape works he was more attuned to the painterly tradition of the Barbizon School and the Impressionists, recording life in the rural French countryside in light-filled canvasses.
While Paris was undergoing its transformation into the City of Lights due to the extensive renovations going on in the 1870 under the Baron Haussmann, many people travelled to the Capital in search of work and relished its lights and the excitement of its novelties.
Yet many as well regretted the more tranquil lifestyle they had left behind.
Paintings depicting rural landscapes hence became popular and Galien-Laloue and the Barbizon painters of the time filled the void in the market for those people who wanted a landscape painting to remind them of the peaceful serenity of nature they had left behind.
By specializing in both ‘genre’ Galien-Laloue had in essence, cornered both markets.
Galien Laloue exhibited his paintings in most French cities, Dijon, Orleans, Versailles, Roubaix, Saint Etienne, Bordeaux or Monte Carlo.
The Painting measures: 8 1/2 inches high X 16 inches long
The Gilt wood and plater Frame measures: 171/2 inches high X 25 inches long