Monday, February 28, 2011

Paul de Longpre -- The King of Flower Painters

Updated12/17/18

Ah, the King of Flower Painters, or so it reads in a 1904 article about Paul de Longpre, French artist and Hollywood resident. His three acre garden site at 1741 N. Cahuenga Blvd, took up almost half the block beginning at Hollywood Blvd. northbound, and became one of the first tourist attractions in Los Angeles.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1899, de Longpre decided to make it permanent. In 1900 he bought the site in "Cahuenga Valley", and had built this mission style mansion, designed by Louis J. B. Bourgeois, a Canadian architect and sculptor.

Visitors so overwhelmed the property the family had to close touring the house beginning in 1909, and the gardens ultimately were limited to being open only January-April. The popularity of his estate can still be witnessed by the thousands of postcards created from photos of the house and gardens. A quick search of 'de Longpre postcard' on the internet yields many colorful results.

Our photo of the de Longpre Mission-Style Mansion in 1910

Paul de Longpre ca. 1906
Paul de Longpre, born in 1855 in Lyon, began painting at 12 years of age, marrying at 19, and proudly boasted his first painting in a Paris Salon in 1876. He left France after a financial failure of a Paris bank left him without money, coming to New York in 1890 to do commissions. His successes resulted in the first flower-painting exhibit in New York in 1896.  His paintings (most in watercolor) continued to gain in popularity, and he took his newfound wealth to go to Los Angeles where he could paint flowers year-round. With his wife Josephine they were the parents of three children, and became a key part of the social scene in Hollywood. One grand celebration was held in 1909 when "the tunnel" was completed in downtown Los Angeles, reducing ride time on the P.E. car to Hollywood by twelve minutes. The house was a main tourist stop on the line.

In September, 1910, de Longpre became hospitalized with a serious middle ear infection  requiring surgery, from which he never recovered. By February, 1911 he was bedridden, and died at his home June 29, 1911.

By September his widow had moved to a new home on Cahuenga. It turned out the house was the majority value of his $60,000 estate, which was given to Josephine.

By 1920 the house was in use by a French art dealer. But the house was sold and later that same year, the house was demolished.

The end in 1920 for the de Longpre Mansion
(USC Digital Collections and CHS)
By 1950 we end up with what we have today. The area is commercial buildings and parking lots. 


Below is a sample of Paul de Longpre's art (courtesy of wikimedia.org)


Roses and Bumblebees 1898

Roses and Bumblebees 1899

Here are a couple of postcards that give some idea of the beauty of the gardens. On the back of one, written in May, 1908, the writer states " This must be the most beautiful spot on earth."



3 comments:

  1. There was a DeLongpre watercolor on my Mother's bathroom wall for 40 years.We thought it was a print.When Mom passed,it sold for 23,000 at auction. Thanks Paul!

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