Galien Laloue, one of the acknowledged best painters of Paris, was born and lived most of his life in Montmartre. Born in 1854 to Charles Laloue, a set designer working for a Parisian theatre, he was the oldest of nine children.Watching his father's work, Galien became interested in art when he was very young and, except for a brief period spent in the army, he never went anywhere without his brushes and paints. Life without painting was not worth living as far as he was concerned. He lived for his art only and after breaking his arm in 1940 while being evacuated to Bordeaux, and not being able to paint any more, he died a few months later at the age of 87.Laloue was lucky to live in Paris at a very exciting time for the city. Paris was being rebuilt and modernised and changed beyond recognition during his lifetime. His paintings are an accurate record of those fascinating changes.
1854, the year of Laloue's birth, was also the year of the most monumental and drastic changes in the layout of the city of Paris. Baron Haussman, appointed prefect of the Seine a year earlier, started his vast project which included pulling down the old houses and building wide boulevards without which we could not imagine Paris anymore.
In 1870 Laloue's father died. The 16 year old boy had to leave school and get a job. His mother found him work at a notary's office but he did not like it. A year later he enlisted in the army to take part in the Prussian war. When he returned, he knew that all he wanted to do was to paint. In 1874 Laloue was employed by the French Railway lines. The company was expanding its network from Paris to most parts of France and needed an illustrator to travel and paint the new section of the rail network. This gave Laloue an opportunity to travel to the provinces. Every day, once his rail paintings were finished, he started his own work – country scenes and landscapes.
His favourite subjects, however, were always scenes of life in Paris. He used to sketch out in the streets and the architectural details were always accurate, and in fact more important than the human component. He would usually finish his paintings in the studio and recreate the atmosphere captured in the sketch but sometimes incorporating his family and friends into the pictures.“