Cortes, Edouard

Edouard Cortes (French, 1882-1969). Edouard Cortes was born into a family of artists and artisans in Paris, 1882. His grandfather, Andre Cortes, was famous for his work on the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Seville and his father, Antonio Cortes, was a painter at the royal court of Spain. In this artistically conducive atmosphere, Edouard showed exceptional talent early and decided at a young age that he was destined to be a painter. He once said, “I was born from and for painting.”

In his youth, Cortes trained at his father’s studio and was also given advice and encouragement from his brother (also a painter) and other local artists. Surprisingly, before undergoing his formal education at the National French Art School in Paris, a sixteen-year old Cortes first exhibited his work at the national exhibition of the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris, 1899. His large painting, Le Labour, was a great success and the French press lauded the young phenomenon of the French art scene.

Edouard eventually became a member of the French Artists’ Society, exhibiting his works every year as his reputation began to grow. In 1901 Cortes began his long tradition of painting different vignettes of Paris. He also painted familial interiors, landscapes, and seascapes but achieved his greatest fame through these masterly and expressive Parisian scenes. In 1915, he was awarded the Silver Medal at the Salon des Artistes Francais and the Gold Medal at the Salon des Independents. He also received numerous awards at the Salon d’Hiver during his artistic career. Because of his pacifist beliefs stemming from his direct involvement with WWI, he refused the Legion of Honor offered by the French government for his artistic success and contributions.

Cortes’ poetic Parisian scenes are imbued with nostalgia for a belle-époque France. Even into the 1950s Cortes often painted horse drawn omnibuses and fashions preceding 1920, commenting that, at least in his paintings, he wished to stop history in 1939 before the Second World War The window Cortes provides into this earlier period of Parisian life offers the viewer a visual history of France and a personal connection to this provocative time.