12 July 2016
Paul-Louis Delance (French, 1848-1924)
Le départ, Gare d'Austerlitz, Paris
signed and dated 'Paul Delance. 1883' (lower left)
oil on canvas
83 ¼ x 126 ¾ in. (211.5 x 321.9 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 21 November 1997, lot 167.
with The Fine Art Society, London, 1999.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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Paris, Salon, 1883, no. 712.
New York, Didier Aaron, La Belle-Époque: Paintings and Drawings, 2-22 November 1978, no. 13.
Tokyo, Tokyo Station Gallery, Railways in Art: Inventing the Modern, 8 August-15 September 2003, no. 46.
Paul-Louis Delance studied under both Jean-Leon Gérôme and Léon Bonnat at the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris. During the turbulent years at the end of the 1860’s he became more and more politically aware and in 1870 he joined the army. After his commission he travelled extensively through Europe eventually settling back in France. His artistic style flourished within the academic milieu of the French third republic and he was awarded a mention honorable at the Salon of 1880. Not only was he making great progress in his artistic career, he also managed to secure great personal happiness by marrying his student Julie Feurgard in 1886. Two years later in 1888 his life and career changed completely when both his daughter Alice was born and he exhibited la Légende de Saint Denis at the Salon. The later earned the artist the much-coveted first-class medal.
The painter became member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890 and was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1908.
The present lot depicts travellers saying their goodbyes on the platform at the Gare d'Austerlitz. Originally called Gare d'Orléans, the station was built in 1840 in order to serve the Paris-Corbeil and then the Paris- Orléans lines. The station was important for connecting Paris with South-West France and Spain.
The train station and the railway in general became a fashionable theme in art in the second half of the 19th Century. Symbolizing the progress of modern life and industry, it was one of the favourite subjects of the impressionist movement. Claude Monet was for instance fascinated by the Gare Saint-Lazare, celebrating it in one of his most famous series of which the Arrival of the Train in the collection of the Musee d’Orasy is one of the most well-known (fig 1.). Where Monet was inspired by the great iron structures echoing the monumental proportions of France’s Gothic cathedrals, Delance focussed his attention on the revolutionary impact that the railway, and its subsequent mass travel, had on society. In that respect the artist draws easy comparison with some of his English contemporaries such as William frith (fig. 2) and Augustus Egg.
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