Paul de Longpre

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"White Flowers with Two Bees"
Watercolor, 10 x 13 inches

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Paul de Longpre was born on April 18, 1855 in Lyons, France. At the age of 8, his family relocated to Paris and by 10, he was working with his father and older brothers at a renowned silk loom for whole days. He began drawing flowers as a young child and at 12 was earning money selling sketches of his flowers. Joining his brothers on their painting commissions, de Longpre painted ladies silk and ivory fans to add to the family's income. By the time de Longpre was 20, he became well known for his decorative paintings and designs and was one of the most sought after designers. Much of his success in his artistic career was a product of evolution rather than formal training.

In March 1874, he married an accomplished seamstress Josephine Estievenard. De Longpre's success continued and by 1888, he was one of the main illustrators in providing wide botanical illustrations for the periodical Revue Horticole. By 21, de Longpre was given the chance to exhibit at the prestigious Paris Salon. Although a successful artist, due to poor financial investments, de Longpre was financially devastated. On a stroke of luck, he received a commission in America for a decorative painting in New York and made the decision to sail out to unknown territory. He arrived in New York in 1890 and would take one year before he completed his commission. At that point, he decided to stay in the US and sent for his wife and daughters.

Virtually unknown in America, de Longpre struggled to make a reputation for himself. He began by taking on commissions for horticultural illustrations and took a risk by investing the majority of his money in the advertisement of his exhibition of floral paintings. His risk was well worth the effort because de Longpre's paintings began to sell and he began to be requested for more commissions. One opportunity that furthered his status as a successful artist was the commission by the J. Ottoman Lithographic Company where his painting of yellow roses would become a chromolithograph entitled Tea Roses and was given as souvenirs to the public at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

His biggest success was the exhibition of 1895 at the American Art Galleries. This exhibition established his international reputation and freedom from financial worries. He continued to exhibit in many different galleries and received favorable reviews with large crowds. In 1897, his success in France was established when the French government adopted his flower studies as a standard model for state art schools.

Hearing about the lands and the sunny weather of the west, de Longpre journeyed with his family to Los Angeles, California in 1899. Deciding to live in Hollywood, he built a palatial Moorish-style home on the corner of Cahuenga and Hollywood. The house soon became a tourist attraction which attracted 25,000 visitors annually. An expert in floriculturalist, his 3-acre garden held 4,000 rose bushes which provided much of his subject matter. While in the west coast, de Longpre continued to also exhibit in the east. While living in Hollywood, de Longpre became a strong activist and contributor in the advancing of art, music, and poetry. He believed that by advocating and introducing art, music, and poetry to the public, the inclination for war and strife would decrease. He was also a strong advocate of national art schools, a national art gallery, and evening concerts for music appreciation sponsored by the government.

De Longpre continued to open his home to visitors and would exhibit his works from his studio. His last exhibition held in April 1911 consisted of many unfinished paintings and studies due to the strain on his eyes and his health. He died in his Hollywood mansion on June 29, 1911. A street and park in Hollywood are named for de Longpre who is also known as "Le Roi des Fleurs".

Exhibited: Paris Salon, 1879; San Francisco, 1894; American Art Galleries, New York City, 1895-98; Milwaukee Industrial Exposition, 1898; Blanchard Gallery, Los Angeles, 1900; Coronado Hotel, California, 1901; Harvey Gallery, Los Angeles, 1912; Hoover Gallery, Los Angeles, 1913.

Works Held: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Irvine Museum, California; Orange County Museum, California.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Hall, Nancy. "The Life and Art of Paul de Longpre".Print.