The largest oil painting in The Michael Aaron Gallagher Fine Art Collection is by French artist Christian Ehlinger. Born in 1931, Christian is the son of famed artist Maurice Ehlinger (1896-1981), whose numerous works were recently on display at the Musée Pierre-Noël de Saint-Dié-des-Vosges and the Musée Baron-Martin in France.
While researching a painting by Maurice, Michael discovered that his son Christian had not only authored the definitive catalogue raisonné of his father’s paintings (titled Beauté et Vérité) but he was also a respected artist himself. According to Gérard Stehlin, who co-authored the catalogue raisonné along with Christian, the artist once received the Gold Medal from La Société des Artistes Français.
Where Maurice is celebrated for his ability to depict realistic expressions and lifelike fleshtones on canvas, Christian excels in a more modernist approach.
Imported to the United States from Europe, the first oil painting by Christian Ehlinger acquired for the collection was a massive painting of a concubine, entitled “La Sultane.” In 1999, it was displayed at the prestigious Salon in Paris. With its sybolism and uniquely modern style, it is both intriguing and mysterious. It is also currently the largest painting in the entire collection, measuring 64” x 51”.
The second work by Christian featured in the collection is a cityscape. Painted in a similar style to another one of his Parisian works, which depicts the Eiffel Tower and the Flame of Liberty (an unofficial memorial to Princess Diana), Christian’s original style brings a fresh perspective to often pictured subjects and scenery.
The third work by Christian Ehlinger is called “The Hunting Party.” It was acquired from The Stag Gallery fine art dealers in Cirencester, England. Set on the grounds of a French château, the piece beautifully depicts a bygone era in the French life, culture and fashion of the wealthy. With the bright cloudy sky that can also be found in his cityscape, there is cheerfulness and excitement that brings an energy to the picture. The pack of dogs at the ready, the horses and riders partially obscured by the trees in the foreground and the château in the distance, all draw your eye to separate areas of the painting. A distinct combination of actions and motifs, no one element takes precedence over the others. Yet, together they create this magnificent moment in time that we can observe as if we are standing on the grounds of this gorgeous estate.