Born in France in December 1854 to French-Italian parents, Galien-Laloue lived and worked for most of his life in Montmartre. His father was a set designer working for a Parisian theatre and he was the oldest of nine children. Later in his life he changed his name from Eugene Galiany as a tribute to his teacher Charles Laloue whom he studied with in 1877. He received his first training as an architect, which helped Galien-Laloue with popularising the subject matter of Paris street scenes and his very natural rural landscapes. Galien-Laloue lived in Paris at a very exciting time. Paris was being rebuilt and modernised and the city changed beyond recognition during his lifetime. 1854, the year of Laloue's birth, was also the year of the most monumental changes to the layout of the Paris. Baron Haussman, appointed prefect of the Seine a year earlier, started his vast project which included pulling down the old houses and building wide boulevards. Galien-Laloue’s paintings are an accurate record of those fascinating changes. Since the camera could not accurately record motion, and perceived only black and white, Galien-Laloue's paintings were, in a sense, postcards for the public, and were highly prized by both tourists and the towns people.
In 1874 Galien-Laloue was employed by the French Railway lines. The company was expanding its network from Paris to many other parts of France and needed an illustrator to travel and paint the new section of the rail network. This gave Galien- Laloue an opportunity to travel to the provinces where he worked on his country scenes and landscapes, particularly of Normandy and Siene-et-Marne. His favourite subjects, however, were always scenes of life in Paris.
Galien-Laloue made his exhibiting debut at the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1877. His talent was acknowledged by his contemporaries, unlike the Impressionists, who were only recognised towards the ends of their lives or in some cases posthumously. Galien-Laloue was popular and his paintings sold very well. He was loved not only by the French, but also by the American and British collectors. Eugène Galien Laloue worked under many pseudonyms, possibly for contractual reasons. The three most frequent names in which he signed, in addition to his own, were "J Lievin", "E Galiany" and "L Dupuy".
His attention to detail accuracy of perception, reproduction of architecture, clearly set him above other street scene painters. Galien-Laloue was also selected to work as a military illustrator, capturing both the Franco-Prussian and the WW I in watercolour.