Raoul Victor Maurice Maucherrat de Longpre (1843 – 1911)
Freshly Cut Bouquet
Signed and inscribed ‘Fils’
Water colour and Gouache on paper
28.5 x 36.5 inches (73 x 93 cm)
Raoul Longpre was born in Lyon in 1843 son of Jean-Antoine-Marie-Victor and Marie-Therese Pinchaud de Longpré. He signed his works and added “fils” (son of).
Raoul followed his father, as a painter, his younger brother Paul, born in the family home in Lyon in 1855, also became a painter of still lifes. Raoul painted in the floral tradition that was closely tied to the textile design industry of Lyon. Raoul de Lampré showed an early talent and began painting flowers on fans, for a Parisian company, from the age of 12. De Longpré painted from closely observed scientific studies of flowers that enabled him to produce works of exquisite detail. His subject matter was derived from the awareness of the “language of flowers”, a coded means of communication popular in the Victorian era. Composing a bouquet of white lilacs would signify “youthful innocence” whereas purple lilacs signified “the first emotion of love”. Roses had a multitude of meanings depending on their colour and the flowers that were combined with them. De Longpré’s compositions are focused entirely on the blooms rather than how flowers might be incorporated into human reality, thus reinforcing his interest in them as allegorical devices. Raoul de Longprés work has a depth of space and richness of colour and his preference for a gouache and watercolour medium always gives a vitality and freshness to this outstanding French painter.
‘Freshly cut blooms with the secateurs to the right hand side of the picture’ is one of the largest recorded works of his favorite flowers – roses and lilacs. They are painted to perfection, illustrating a high degree of scientific botanical excellence, combined with a green mossy backdrop to harmonise the delicate colouring of the flowers.
Our picture is directly comparable to the painting of roses in the collection of the National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. Both paintings combine a very successful formula, which J. White (Art Professor and Curator) describes as “a bouquet of lilacs and roses floating in space on a surmounted plinth rendering a delicate water colour of great beauty”. Raoul’s work was so much in demand that he moved to Paris to further his career and he made his debut at the Salon de Paris in 1877. Raoul married Eugene Rongières in 1901.
The technique of the two brothers Raoul and Paul is very different – Raoul’s painting style is softer and the subject matter is usually presented in a conventional setting, on a marble base or ledge with a neutral green background. Paul immigrated to the USA in 1883, it is probable that Raoul visited the United States and exhibited one of his paintings, (entitled Floral Bouquet), in Colorado, (Rocky Mountain news, July 27 1883). It is well recorded that Raoul returned to France and continued painting until 1911. In contrast, his younger brother Paul adopted the American way of life moved to Hollywood, California and built a beautiful home, which became famous for its flower gardens – to the extent that a street and park are named after him. Coincidentally, both brothers passed away in 1911.
Works by Raoul de Longpré can be found in the Fletcher Museum, Scotsdale, Arizona; the Margaret Woodbury-Strong Museum in Rochester, New York; the Brockton Art Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts; the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.