Edmond Georges Grandjean

Le Boulevard des Italiens, Paris

Oil on canvas: 30(h) x 49.5(w) in /

76.2(h) x 125.7(w) cm

Signed and dated llower left: E. Grandjean 1876

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BT 201

 

EDMOND-GEORGES GRANDJEAN

1844 – Paris – 1909

 

Le Boulevard des Italiens, Paris

 

Signed and dated lower left: E. Grandjean / 1876

Oil on canvas: 30 x 49 ½ in / 76.2 x 125.7 cm

Frame size: 61 x 41 in / 154.9 x 104.1 cm

 

Provenance:

Private collection, USA;

Sotheby’s New York, 28th October 1982, lot 52;

Richard Green, London, 1982;

Private collection, UK

 

Exhibited:

Paris, Salon, 1876, no.945

 

 

Baron Haussmann was appointed Prefect of the Seine Départment by Emperor Napoleon III in 1852 and began to transform Paris, replacing what remained of the medieval streetscapes with wide, tree-lined boulevards. Edmond-Georges Grandjean became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1862 and studied both genre subjects and portraits, before specializing in views of the capital. Like Jean Béraud, Grandjean would make detailed sketches in the city before creating his elaborate compositions in his studio in Passy. His paintings are full of light, with vividly observed street life, and high finish. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1865. A critic wrote of Grandjean’s 1879 submission: ‘So consummate is the art that it is difficult to realise that we are gazing upon a scene printed on canvas. One could believe it to be a view from nature obtained by instantaneous photography, but for the fact that it is so finished and well studied a picture. That would be a rare photograph, indeed, that should yield a result like this – such admirable distribution of parts, comprehensive variety of details, and naturalness of movement … M. Grandjean is justly distinguished for his success in treating this class of subjects’.

 

This work depicts the Boulevard des Italiens, one of the most fashionable of Haussmann’s new streets, on a sunny day in spring. It was shown at the Salon of 1876, where the critic Victor Cherbuliez noted: ‘Son Boulevard des Italiens est agréable, animé, amusant, vivant, grouillant, et la perspective en est heureuse’[1]. The radiant sky leads the eye south-west towards the Madeleine. On the left, the ‘H’ line coach of the Compagnie Générale des Omnibus turns out of the Rue de Richelieu; a bootblack takes a nap, resting between a tree and his box on the corner. Behind is the Café du Cardinal, haunt of writers, painters and composers, including Hector Berlioz, who frequented it from the 1820s to the 60s. A line of gentlemen is seated at the outside tables, absorbed in their newspapers. The café still exists, as does the bust of Cardinal Richelieu visible above the door in Grandjean’s painting. On the floors above is a music publisher. The artistic theme is continued by the man (perhaps a humorous self-portrait of Grandjean?) carrying a painting strapped to his back, who plods in the shadow on the left. On the right, the tall building at 8 Boulevard des Italiens advertises the premises of ‘E Tourtin Peinture et Photographie’, who specialized in cartes de visite.

 

1870s Paris was a place of burgeoning capitalism, with endless entertainments and luxury goods to tempt those who could afford it. On the right, under the trees, a colonne Morris holds posters for plays and other events. Grandjean captures the energy and rich social mix of the capital, from the policemen and smart cavalryman, to the drayman, delivery boys, a nursemaid and her charges, businessmen, flâneurs and elegantly-dressed ladies whose bright costumes and parasols serve as a foil to the soberly-attired men. There are no idlers in Grandjean’s city; everyone seems to have a purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDMOND-GEORGE GRANDJEAN

 1844 – Paris – 1909

 

Edmond-George Grandjean was a painter of genre and animal scenes, portraits, and cityscapes.  Born in the French capital, Grandjean entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris in October 1862.  He was a pupil of d’Yvon (1817-1893), Signol (1804-1892) and Pils (1813-1875). 

 

He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1865. At the International Exhibitions, he received an honourable mention in 1881 and 1989, a third class medal in 1888, and a second class medal in 1898.

 

The work of Edmond George Grandjean is represented in the Musée de Gray, France. 

 

[1] ‘Le Salon de 1876, I, Les Impressionistes, les tableaux de genre et les portraits’, Revue de Deux Mondes, 3rd series, vol. 15, 1876, pp.513-33.

ImpressionistEdmond Georges Grandjean