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Jean François Raffaëlli

(French, 1850–1924)

église et place animée by jean françois raffaëlli

Jean François Raffaëlli

Église et place animée

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Jean Francois Raffaelli was born in Paris into a bourgeois family in which he enjoyed a privileged childhood until the age of fourteen when a reversal of his father's business fortunes forced him to seek employment. He held a series of jobs before being placed, unwillingly, in a commercial house as a book-keeper at the age of sixteen. While working there, he began to visit the Louvre and to spend his sundays in the Musée du Luxembourg. His initial artistic interest was in drawing, and as he developed this passion, he gave up his job and supported himself by singing in theatres and churches.
Although he had received no formal training, one of his landscapes was accepted by the Salon Jury in 1870, and the following year he enroled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he studied in the studio of for three months. For the first period of his artistic development, Raffaelli turned to Corot, Roybet, Gérôme and Fortuny, painting mainly landscapes and historical costume pieces, but suddenly and without apparent warning he produced a powerful portrait of a Breton peasant family in 1876 La famille de Jean le Boiteux. This was exhibited at the 1877 Salon and heralded a new phase in the artist's career.
Raffaelli was one of the young artists who gathered around Degas at the Cafe de la Nouvelle-Athènes, and through the older painter's influence, Raffaelli was invited to exhibit with the Impressionists in 1880 and 1881. During the late 1870s and the 1880s, he painted many aspects of the rapidly expanding suburbs of Paris, frequently portraying the types of people, such as rag-pickers and garlic-sellers, who were being made redundant by the onset of urbanisation. During the 90s, he moved back into the centre of Paris and began to concentrate largely on views of the capital, Parisian monuments, boulevards, and later, views of the countryside and seaports, such as this painting of La Rochelle which is typical of this phase of his career.
An independent exhibition of Raffaelli's work was held in 1884 and five years later, he was awarded the Legion d'honneur. He visited New York in 1895 and again in 1897 and he is well represented in Museums both in the United States and in France.