Click on an image to view a larger image of the art.
Jean Francois Raffaelli (1850-1924) was born in 1850 in Paris and died in Paris in 1924. He initially grew up learning to sing and act but at the age of twenty he began to paint. He was very talented and had immediate success. His first teacher was the highly acclaimed painter and instructor Gerome. In fact, Raffaelli’s first entry to the salons in 1870 was to become one of his most famous and highly accredited works. It was the painting “Guests Waiting for the Wedding.” During that exhibition the naturalist writers noted him; specifically Emile Zola became an admirer and a protagonist of Raffaelli’s. Ironically his formal training actually came after he won acclaim in 1870 and even then he only studied formally for three months in 1871.
Raffaelli’s importance in nineteenth-century art comes from his unique portrayals of the industrial suburban landscape of Paris and its inhabitants. His works display a segment of humanity hidden from public view and largely overlooked by other artists. Like his friend Huysmans and other contemporary Naturalist writers of fiction, Raffaelli, with rare acuity of vision, depicted downtrodden or work-weary figures, carefully individualized in their accustomed milieu.
Unlike previous nineteenth-century artists who depicted the Parisian industrial suburbs and its inhabitant only occasionally, Raffaelli focused upon this subject matter for a substantial part of his career.
Raffaelli’s style was clearly different from most of the Impressionist painters yet he was invited to participate in the 1880 and 1881 Salons due to the sponsorship of Edgar Degas. In fact in 1881 he had more paintings in the show than any other painter.
Although his works in the Impressionist salons aroused the attention of critics who showered Raffaelli with much attention and praise, he didn’t fare as well with his fellow artists. Gaugin and Guillamin both issued a public declaration that if Raffaelli were included in l882’s exhibition, they would not show their work. History may have treated Raffaelli much differently had this not taken place!
Raffaelli’s subject matter is equally as interesting today as it was during his lifetime. His philosophical bent and naturalistic tendencies can be interpreted to show a highly evolved and quite futuristic thinker. His observations of the absinthe drinkers and rag-pickers, chiffonnières as they were dubbed at the time, are still extremely poignant today. Raffaelli keenly observed life in the suburbs of Paris where he had taken residence. He was an anthropologist of sorts. He documented various aspects of a changing reality. Unlike most other artists of the day, who were observing landscapes and city streets, Raffaelli noted the effects of the changing urban landscapes and the effects it had on peoples’ lives. Where there had been farms, albeit quite barren land due to it having been worked so often and because of its proximity to Paris, there were now urban developments and factories. The Chiffonnière who may have been a tenant farmer or even a small landowner was now scavenging rags to be gathered from house to house and then sold to be recycled into sacks or paper. He keenly portrayed the underside of the prosperity gained from the industrial revolution.
During the 1890’s, at the height of his career, his works enjoyed even greater acceptance and brought him increased prosperity, evidenced by his light-hearted scenes of Parisian monuments and boulevards.
By the early 1900s his primary work was printmaking in color. In the l890s he had co-founded the French Society of Color Etching with Mary Cassatt and Camille Pissarro. He introduced a new technique in printmaking whereby up to five plates were used to create a drypoint etching.
Raffaelli died in 1924 after a long and illustrious career. His paintings hang today in major museums throughout the world, reminding us not only of his tremendous originality, but also his extraordinary efforts as a color etcher. All told Rafaelli executed one hundred and eighty-three original prints. He is a great example of the painter-printmaker.
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
- Ball State University Art Gallery, Muncie, IN
- Bibliothèque de l’Ínstitut de France, Paris
- Bibliotheque Nationale de France
- Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
- Dublin National Gallery
- Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
- Goteborg Art Gallery, Sweden
- Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts
- John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia, PA
- Kroller-Muller National Museum, Otterloo, the Netherlands
- L’Isle-Adam, Musee Louis Senlecq (Depot du Musee d’Órsay )
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- MacKenzie Art Gallery, Sachatchewan
- Mairie de Le Quesnoy (Depot du Musee d’Órsay)
- Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris
- Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts, Goldendale, WA
- Melton Park Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- Municipal Museum of Fine Arts, Tandil, Argentina
- Musee Carnavalet, Paris
- Musee d‘Art moderne et d’Art contemporain de la Ville de Liege
- Musee d’Árt et d’Histoire, Saint-Denis
- Musèe d’Art moderne et d’Art contemporain(MAMAC),Liège, Belguim
- Musee de Grenoble
- Musee de la Chartreuse, Douai
- Musee de la Princerie, Verdun
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Agen
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Beziers
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nancy
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nice
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Pau
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Reims
- Musee des Beaux-Arts, Tourcoing
- Musee des Jacobins, Morlaix
- Musee dÓrsay, Paris
- Musee du Petit Palais, Paris
- Musee Fabre, Montepellier
- Musee Marmottan-Monet, Paris
- Musee national du Château de Versailles
- Musee Rodin, Paris
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Brussels- Belgium, Copenhagen, Louvre, Paris
- Museum of Pictorial Art, Leipzig, Germany
- Museum Voor Schone Kunsten, Gand
- National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
- National Gallery, Oslo, Norway
- Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille
- Philadephia Museum of Art, Philadelphia PA
- Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
- Prêt de la Beadleston Gallery, New York
- Pret de la Fondation Willem van der Vorm
- Réunion des Musées Nationaux, France
- Singer Museum, Laren
- Telfair Academy of Arts and Science, Savannah, GA