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Friday, April 23, 2010

Edouard Cortes: Master Parisian Streetscape Painter

Few artists could paint such a compelling Parisian street scent as Edouard Cortes. Painting from the turn of the century well into the mid 20th century, Cortes witnessed great changes in Paris through the Belle Epoque, the Great War, the international depression, the Second World War and beyond. Much of what Monet did with haystacks, lily ponds and fields in Giverny; Edouard Cortes did for the grand city of Paris. Capturing the changes in light, atmosphere, season and mood; Cortes was internationally known in his day and remains so today, one of the best examples of street-scene painters to have ever graced the Champs-Elysees.

Cortes came from a long line of artisans; the son of a Spanish Court painter and grandson of an artisan, Edouard was immersed in an art-heavy environment early in life, leaving a deep impression on the artist. Edouard’s father originally traveled to Paris from Spain for the Exposition Universelle in 1855, eventually settling permanently in Lagny-sur-Marne (Rehs). Schooled in painting by his father and enrolled in private schools from his birth, Edouard rose above his siblings in his ability in and passion for the visual arts, eventually exhibiting his first work, titled La Labour, at the Societe des Artistes Francais (Rehs). This early success set Cortes on his path to popularity in Paris, the city he would paint for the next 60 years until his death in 1969.

Cortes managed to capture all of the landscapes of Paris in new and interesting manifestations, representing the sights in ways only the Parisians would be familiar with during their regular strolls through the city. Landmarks such as Notre Dame, the Place de Clichy, the Opera, the Quai du Louvre and the Place de la Bastille are rendered during different times of the day, under unique weather conditions and from a multitude of angles, Cortes’ work stands as a testament to the visual variety of a single place. The sale of street paintings is commonplace on European city corners today but the vast majority pale in comparison to those of Edouard Cortes.

Interesting insight into the artist’s work and collectability comes from a recent Antiques Roadshow episode recently aired on PBS and captured in an online transcript. While in Michigan a guest brought a Cortes painting after hearing the name on a previous program. The guest explained to appraiser Alasdair Nichol that the painting had been owned by her grandparents, both artists, who traveled to Paris frequently. Noting that paintings of Cortes are frequently forged because of their near-universal appeal and high value the appraiser noted that one secret to detecting a genuine Cortes painting is locating a pin mark in the middle of the painting that the artist had originally placed there as a point of origin for the perspective.

Spotting this and noting the fine quality of the work, the appraiser was convinced that the work was genuine and stated that at auction the painting could fetch anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 (Nichol). Flabbergasted, the guest broke down into tears of joy, astounded by the value of this beautiful painting.

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. has been fortunate enough to have appraised works by this artist and enjoys inviting art collectors and owners alike to their Michigan Avenue office for a consultation session. A skilled team of appraisers and researchers on staff welcomes your questions and concerns and urges you to make an appointment to stop by our office to discuss your item. You never know what you have in your collection until you get your work properly appraised, and MIR is a great place to get that done!

Written and Researched by Justin Bergquist

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA, AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-8510

Works Cited:
Nichol, Alasdair. “1959 Edouard Cortes Painting,” on Antiques Roadshow website.
Rehs, Howard. “Edouard Leon Cortes,” on

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.