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Article

French, 19th century, male.

Born 26 February 1808, in Marseilles; died 10 February 1879, in Valmondois (Val-d’Oise).

Painter, lithographer, draughtsman, sculptor.

Realism.

Honoré Daumier was born to a modest Marseilles family who moved to Paris when Daumier was still a child. From bailiff’s errand boy, young Honoré graduated without enthusiasm to bookshop assistant. He was attracted to the Louvre and wanted to draw. His parents turned a deaf ear until Alexandre Lenoir, who created the Musée des Monuments Français and was an acquaintance of Daumier’s father, encouraged him to let his son follow his bent. The first trial, however, proved inconclusive, probably because conventional tutoring was ill-suited to the student’s temperament. Despite this, he managed to get a job under a lithographer named Ratelet. There he drew alphabets, ornaments for the covers of romances, and so on. He went on to work for the publisher Zéphirin Bélliard and then for Achille Ricourt, until he finally made a modest journalistic debut, collaborating on the ...

Article

Michel Melot

(b Marseille, Feb 26, 1808; d Valmondois, Feb 10, 1879).

French graphic artist, painter, and sculptor.

Son of a Marseille glazier, frame-maker, and occasional picture restorer, Daumier joined his father in Paris in 1816. He became a bailiff’s errand boy and was then employed by a bookseller, but his real enthusiasm was reserved for drawing and politics. He studied drawing with Alexandre Lenoir and at the Académie Suisse and then worked as assistant to the lithographer Béliard. Having mastered the techniques of lithography, he published his first plate in the satirical weekly La Silhouette in 1829.

Daumier was 22 when the revolution of July 1830 gave the throne to Louis-Philippe as constitutional monarch and power to the French middle-class business community. On 4 November 1830 the print publisher Aubert and his son-in-law Charles Philipon launched the violently anti-monarchist weekly La Caricature, followed on 1 December 1832 by Le Charivari, the first daily paper to be illustrated with lithographs. In his association with these newspapers and in the company of Republican artists, Daumier found a favourable milieu for developing his vigorous style and progressive ideas....

Article

Geneviève Monnier

(b Paris, July 19, 1834; d Paris, Sept 27, 1917).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor, pastellist, photographer and collector. He was a founder-member of the Impressionist group and the leader within it of the Realist tendency. He organized several of the group’s exhibitions, but after 1886 he showed his works very rarely and largely withdrew from the Parisian art world. As he was sufficiently wealthy, he was not constricted by the need to sell his work, and even his late pieces retain a vigour and a power to shock that is lacking in the contemporary productions of his Impressionist colleagues.

The eldest son of a Parisian banking family, he originally intended to study law, registering briefly at the Sorbonne’s Faculté de Droit in 1853. He began copying the 15th- and 16th-century Italian works in the Musée du Louvre and in 1854 he entered the studio of Louis Lamothe (1822–69). The training that Lamothe, who had been a pupil of Ingres, transmitted to Degas was very much in the classical tradition; reinforced by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which he attended in ...

Article

French, 19th – 20th century, male.

Active then naturalised in England.

Born 8 May 1837, in Dijon; died 8 December 1911, in Watford, near London.

Painter, sculptor, engraver, draughtsman. Portraits, genre scenes.

Realism.

Alphonse Legros was the youngest child of a poor family and his education was so neglected that when, at the age of 11, he was apprenticed to a house painter he still could not read. In 1851 he went to Paris, worked with Cambon on theatre sets, then entered the École Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudron. Legros first exhibited at the Salon de Paris with ...

Article

French, 19th century, male.

Born 21 February 1815, in Lyons; died 31 January 1891, in Paris.

Painter, watercolourist, sculptor, engraver, draughtsman. History painting, portraits, genre scenes.

Realism.

While still very young, Meissonier showed an extremely strong interest in fine arts, and he entered Léon Cogniet's studio at an early age. He made his debut in 1834 with a genre picture, ...

Article

Barbara S. Fields

(b Paris, April 20, 1850; d Paris, Feb 11, 1924).

French painter, sculptor and printmaker. He turned to painting in 1870, after his early interest in music and theatre, and took the works of Camille Corot, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Ferdinand Roybet and Mariano Fortuny y Marsal as models for his own work. Raffaëlli painted a landscape that was accepted by the Paris Salon jury of 1870. He enrolled in Gérôme’s atelier in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in October 1871, but his three months there were his only formal training. Together with a few landscapes the major part of his early production consisted of costume pictures, primarily with subjects in Louis XIII dress, such as L’Attaque sous bois (1873; Verdun, Mus. Princerie).

In 1876 Raffaëlli produced a powerful, realistic portrait of a Breton peasant family, the Family of Jean-le-Boîteux, Peasants of Plougasnou (Finistère) (Le Quesnoy, Hôtel de Ville), which signalled a new direction in his art. The portrait was praised by the influential critic Louis-Edmond Duranty. By the late 1870s, Raffaëlli’s career as a realist artist was launched with the support of Duranty and other critics such as J.-K. Huysmans. At the insistence of Edgar Degas, Raffaëlli was included in the ...