Monday, February 28, 2011

Paul De Longpre -- The King of Flower Painters

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, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. became one of the first tourist attractions in Los Angeles.

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.

De Longpre Mission-Style Mansion in 1910


Paul De Longpre ca. 1905
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 was hospitalized with a serious middle ear infection, requiring surgery, from which he never recovered. By February, 1911 he was bedridden, and subsequently died June 29, 1911 at his home.

By 1920 the house was in use by a French art dealer.

Today the site 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."



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