Friday, February 05, 2016

Edouard Cortes, Post-Impressionist

My post about Impressionism not long ago sent me wading into the depths of the Internet, which is usually a good thing. It was definitely a good thing this time since I came across an artist I'd never known about named Edouard Leon Cortes. Although he was well-known in his lifetime Cortes has slipped into near-obscurity since his death in the 1960s. His work is best called post-impressionist, and you can see why when looking at his work. His paintings encompass a wide range of subjects, the most famous being Paris street scenes. He also painted landscapes, still life, figures, interiors, really a bit of everything. Cortes trained with his father and spent six decades painting, most of them in the small town of Lagny not far from Paris where he was born.

Cortes' Paris street scenes are not only specific for the city but also almost always involve rain or snow or twilight, or sometimes all three. There is a deeply romantic, almost sentimental tone to his work, aglow with warm interior light spilling onto shining streets full of bustling pedestrians and overshadowed by a famous landmark or a striking view of a familiar treet. No mistake that Cortes includes such well-known sights of the city as the Arc de Triomphe the Opera, and other well-known sights. Oddly, I've never seen the Eiffel Tower in any of his works. Still, Cortes' paintings may be a bit old-fashioned and a bit sentimental but they're genuine in a way that similar, more recent works aren't. Here I have in mind Thomas Kinkade, for example, whose charming little cottages and cutesy little bridges simply reek of cynicism and kitsch. Unlike Kinkade, Cortes' sentiment seems real, unforced and not cynical at all.

Here are a few of Cortes' Paris scenes.
"Quai de louvre," ca 1925

"Le quai de la tournelle, Notre Dame," ca. 125-30

"Port St. Denis," 1920

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