Jean-Francois Raffaelli

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Jean-François Raffaëlli was a painter, sculptor and printmaker.  He was also active as an actor and writer.

Born in Paris on 20 April 1850 he showed an interest in the theater and music before he would become an artist in 1870.  One of his landscape paintings was accepted for exhibition at the Salon in that year.

In October the following year Raffaëlli began a three month tutelage under Jean-Leon Gerome at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, this would be his only formal training.

Until 1876, Raffaëlli would paint costume scenes and it was only after this period that he began to paint everyday people of his time, such as peasants and workers seen in the suburbs of the city.  His new works were held in high regard by many influential critics, as well as by Edgar Degas.  Degas invited Raffaëlli to participate in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1880 and 1881, an action that bitterly divided the group; not only was Raffaëlli not an Impressionist, but he threatened to dominate the 1880 exhibition with his outsized display of thirty-seven works.  An example of Raffaëlli's work from this period is Les buveurs d'absinthe (1881, in the California Palace of Legion of Honor Art Museum in San Francisco).

After 1890 Raffaëlli moved his attention from the suburbs of Paris to city itself, and the street scenes that resulted were well received by the public and the critics. He made a number of sculptures, but these are known today only through photographs.  In the later years of his life, he concentrated on colour printmaking.

Raffaëlli died in Paris on 11 February 1924.

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