Jean François Raffaëlli
1850-1924 | French
Dans le parc en automne, Paris
(In the Park in Autumn, Paris)
Oil on board
Signed "J.F. Raffaëlli" (lower left)
This thoroughly modern Parisian scene was composed by the celebrated French painter Jean François Raffaëlli. The delicate oil captures a familiar subject from late 19th-century life in the city: a busy avenue at the edge of a park on a cool autumn day. Exploring the climate of the city, Raffaëlli's mature works capture the energy of the grand parks and boulevards of the new Paris that emerged at the turn of the century. His legacy documents the realities of urban life during his age, all chronicled in his distinctive brushwork and sophisticated palette.
While Raffaëlli was never fully accepted as a member of the Impressionist group, his works display a similar affinity for capturing the transient moments of modern life. His figures exude a sense of being suspended in time, as though they are part of some subtle narrative that is both restless and harmonious. Perhaps more aligned with Naturalism than Impressionism, the visual effect of Raffaëlli's composition is one of carefully composed spontaneity that makes manifest the joie de vivre of the age.
Raffaëlli was not the only artist of his era to devote his canvases to the urban landscape. Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte and others composed significant works on the subject of the urban milieu. On the whole, it was an entirely new kind of painting, and it was largely influenced by the work of social engineer Baron Haussmann beginning in the 1850s. At the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Haussmann designed and carried out a large-scale urban renewal program, erecting landmarks and tree-lined thoroughfares throughout the city to create a unified and socially-centered urban aesthetic. The city became a glittering stage for modern advancements and bourgeois pleasure, which paved the way for a new kind of subject that was eagerly adopted by the Impressionists and artistic avant-garde.
Born in Paris in 1850, Raffaëlli first studied theater and music before turning to painting in 1870. That same year, he submitted a landscape painting to the Salon and was accepted. Aside from just three months studying with the Academic great Jean-Léon Gérôme, Raffaëlli was self-trained, developing his own unique style that brought together Realism, Naturalism and Impressionism. While he managed to exhibit works at both the Salon and the Impressionist exhibitions, he was never formally accepted by the Academy or the avant-garde movement. His democratized style and subjects, however, made him remarkably popular with the public. Today, his works can be found in important public collections worldwide, including the Musée d'Orsay (Paris), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art (Washington DC) and more.
Late 19th century
Canvas: 25 1/8" high x 18" wide
Frame: 35 1/2" high x 28 3/8" wide