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Europeans & Americans Abroad; Philadelphia Collection 73; September 2004
 
 
painting
 
Louis Braquaval
(French, 1856–1919)
View of Paris with the Madeleine
Oil on canvas, 14 5/8 × 16 1/8 inches
Signed at lower right: “Braquaval”
PROVENANCE: A printed label in Danish or Norweigan gives the name of Erik Becker, executor for the estate of Ingeborg Nielsen, who sold this painting to the dealer P. A. Schram.


Louis Braquaval began to paint seriously after his marriage, with the financial support of his father-in-law. He worked closely with Eugène-Louis Boudin (1824–1898), a friend of his wife’s family, whose influence can be seen in his handling of sky and water in his river views and coastal scenes of northern France, painted in Normandy and near his native Lille. But he is best known for his city scenes, especially Parisian views, like this one, which includes the well-known landmark the Church of the Madeleine (dedicated to Mary Magdalene).

Construction of a domed church on the site was begun in 1764, during the reign of Louis XV. A second architect began construction of a new design based on the Pantheon in Rome, which was halted in 1790 until 1806, when Napoleon decided to start anew and build a Grecian Temple of Glory dedicated to the victories of his armies. The commemorative function of Napoleon’s Temple, which was being built according to the plans of Pierre-Alexandre Vignon, was superceded by the completion of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (see plate 40) in 1808, and, in 1814, under the restored monarchy, Louis XVIII decided that the building should be a church. Although it was proposed as Paris’s first railroad station in 1837, it was finally consecrated in 1842. The Madeleine is still used for services, but since its recent restoration, is more often used for concerts.

While living at St. Valery, a small town on the Picardy coast, Braquaval met Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917), who introduced him to Parisian art circles. After 1900, Braquaval exhibited in most of the Paris Salons, where his paintings were well received. He was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1914. The First World War and failing health cut short Braquaval’s career, and it was only in 1969 that his work was reevaluated in a major exhibition at the Kaplan Gallery in London.


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