The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Jean François RaffaĆ«lli, 1850-1924

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1850.04.20
Place of Birth: Paris
Date of Death: 1924.02.29
Place of Death: Paris


Jean François Raffaëlli was a portrait, landscape and genre painter, etcher, lithographer and sculptor. His father was Italian.


Before entering the studio of Jean-Léon Gérôme to study as an artist, Raffaëlli was an actor in a theatre. He made his début at the Salon in 1870. His early paintings were mainly landscapes and genre pieces. Around 1876 his output took a Realist turn and was praised by the critic Louis-Edmond Duranty. Around 1879 he turned increasingly to images of everyday life in the Parisian suburbs and exhibited with the Impressionists in 1880 and 1881. Although well received, it was his exhibits at the Salon of 1884 that established his reputation.

After this time he executed a number of important portraits of well known society, artistic and political figures, including Edmond de Goncourt and Clemenceau. He also continued to paint genre scenes, particularly of bourgeois life. His etchings of industrial and suburban street life appeared in journals and books of the 1880s and 1890s, e.g. Les Types de Paris (1889). In 1884 he published Etude des mouvements de l'art moderne et du beau caractériste (Paris, 1884).

In 1887 Raffaëlli was on the committee of the annual International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture at the Galerie Georges Petit, an exhibition to which JW was invited to contribute (#04407). From 1892 to 1912 he exhibited in Britain at the Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, London Salon, New English Art Club, Goupil Gallery and Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. He also exhibited at the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, a society that was established in 1898 with JW as its President.


Alexandre, A., Jean-François Raffaëlli: Peintre, graveur et sculpteur, Paris, 1909; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Fields, Barbara S., 'Jean François Raffaëlli', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 24 November 2003).