Monday, February 28, 2011

Paul de Longpre -- The King of Flower Painters

Updated 2/7/23

Ah, the King of Flower Painters, or so it reads in a 1904 article about Paul de Longpre, French artist and Hollywood resident. His three-acre garden site at 1741 N. Cahuenga Blvd, took up almost half the block beginning at Hollywood Blvd. northbound, and became one of the first tourist attractions in Los Angeles.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1899, de Longpre decided to make it permanent. In 1900 he bought the site in "Cahuenga Valley", and had built this mission style mansion, designed by Louis J. B. Bourgeois, a Canadian architect and sculptor.

Visitors so overwhelmed the property the family had to close touring the house beginning in 1909, and the gardens ultimately were limited to being open only January-April. The popularity of his estate can still be witnessed by the thousands of postcards created from photos of the house and gardens. A quick search of 'de Longpre postcard' on the internet yields many colorful results.

Our photo of the de Longpre Mission-Style Mansion in 1910

Paul de Longpre ca. 1906

Paul de Longpre, born in 1855 in Lyon, began painting at 12 years of age, marrying at 19, and proudly boasted his first painting in a Paris Salon in 1876. He left France after a financial failure of a Paris bank left him without money, coming to New York in 1890 to do commissions. His successes resulted in the first flower-painting exhibit in New York in 1896.  His paintings (most in watercolor) continued to gain in popularity, and he took his newfound wealth to go to Los Angeles where he could paint flowers year-round. With his wife Josephine they were the parents of three children, and became a key part of the social scene in Hollywood. One grand celebration was held in 1909 when "the tunnel" was completed in downtown Los Angeles, reducing ride time on the P.E. car to Hollywood by twelve minutes. The house was a main tourist stop on the line. 

In September, 1910, de Longpre became hospitalized with a serious middle ear infection  requiring surgery, from which he never recovered. By February, 1911 he was bedridden, and died at his home June 29, 1911.

By September his widow had moved to a new home on Cahuenga. It turned out the house was the majority value of his $60,000 estate, which was given to Josephine. 

By 1920 the house was in use by a French art dealer. But the house had been sold, and later that same year it was demolished. It had lasted less than 20 years.

The end in 1920 for the de Longpre Mansion
(USC Digital Collections and CHS)

By 1951 we end up with essentially what we have today. The area is commercial buildings and parking lots. The building apparently bisected by the old north property line was in 1951 a bus station (the L-shaped part). In the 2010's it was something called "Halo" and then "The Colony". By 2021 it appears boarded up. Amazingly the five apartment buildings west of the northwest corner of the lot, built between 1913 and 1919, still remain.

(image updated 2/7/2023 thanks to a sharp-eyed commenter--below)

Below is a sample of Paul de Longpre's art (courtesy of

Roses and Bumblebees 1898

Roses and Bumblebees 1899

Here are a couple of postcards that give some idea of the beauty of the gardens. On the back of one, written in May, 1908, the writer states " This must be the most beautiful spot on earth."


  1. There was a DeLongpre watercolor on my Mother's bathroom wall for 40 years.We thought it was a print.When Mom passed,it sold for 23,000 at auction. Thanks Paul!

    1. I have one I just don't know who to talk to about it.

  2. paul de longpre and c.klein (catherine klein) are my favorite artists. such talent in getting all the details just right botanically and infusing the essence of the divine. he lived quite a life. hope he knew his legacy would bring so much joy to many after he left this mortal plane.

  3. Wikipedia states that Longpre was gifted the homesite by Daeida Wilcox, with husband H. H. Wilcox the founders of Hollywood. "They were so eager to attract culture to the town that she gave him her homesite for his estate, three lots on Cahuenga on the north of Prospect (later Hollywood Boulevard),[1] in exchange for three of his paintings."

    Is this true?

  4. According to Sam Watters, author of Houses of Los Angeles (1885-1920):
    "On a spring afternoon in 1900, de Longpré met with Henry Goodwin, Hollywood's only real-estate agent, and together they walked across the street from Goodwin's office to inquire about an empty lot whose price had been significantly reduced. In April of that year, de Longpré purchased for $10,000 three acres on the west side of North Cahuenga Boulevard and north of Hollywood Boulevard."
    His reference was Nancy Hall The Life and Times of Paul de Longpré, (2001)
    I would vote 'No'.

  5. It appears Ms. Hall's book is entitled The Life and Art of Paul de Longpre.

  6. Just visited (June 19, 2021) an exhibit of 47 of DeLongpre art at the Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory NC. It is an incredible exhibition of this artist, on loan from a local couple until September 2021. Go if you can!

  7. In your arial Google maps pic your red rectangle crops out the rest of the property on the north side where the house actually stood. In this 1920 photo you can see that the back of the house butts up against a a "U" shaped apt complex that stands today.

  8. Thanks, Anonymous. I've updated the old property line. There were three sets of similar apartment buildings to the west of the mansion. Only the middle set remains today.


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