Le raboteur by Maurice Jeannin

  • This oil on canvas was composed by renowned French artist Maurice Jeannin
  • It depicts an laborer sanding down a wooden floor
  • The humble subject and straightforward approach to the work reflect the impact of the Realists
  • The work was exhibited at both the Paris Salon and the Brussels Exposition Internationale
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3797

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Maurice Jeannin
1867-1907 | French

Le raboteur
(The Planer)

Signed “Maurice Jeannin” and dated 1896 (lower right)
Oil on canvas

This oil on canvas by Parisian artist Maurice Jeannin, entitled Le raboteur, depicts an urban laborer hard at work planing a wood floor. The painting, with its honest, unadorned approach to its humble subject, reflects the impact of the Realists and the group's ideals of “truth to nature” and objective portrayals of modern-day existence. 

Jeannin worked primarily as a portraitist for Parisian society, but in this work, he ventures into a more ambitious, avant-garde style — Realism. Largely considered the first modern movement in art history, 19th-century French Realism was marked by a more realistic approach in both subject matter and style, as opposed to the idealized forms of Neoclassical art or the exotic themes of Romanticism. Here, Jeannin renders his worker with photographic realism, a daring departure from the classic idealism of an earlier age. His use of light and shadow and unconventional compositional framing breathes life into the canvas and gives the subject an exceptional dimension of realism.

This work relates closely to an earlier painting by Gustave Caillebotte that now resides in the Musée d’Orsay (Paris). Both depict an unglorified view of workers bent over, scraping a hardwood floor. Physical labor, particularly focusing on the lives of the French peasantry, was an important theme among the Realists. However, the “urban proletariat” pictured here was a much less common subject for those working in the style, making this a rarity within the genre.

Jeannin began his training with accomplished Salon painter Tony Robert-Fleury before having the privilege to study under the great William-Adolphe Bouguereau and later Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Beginning in 1884, he exhibited frequently at the Paris Salon and was awarded several medals. He continued exhibiting there until shortly before his death at the young age of 40. He displayed Le raboteur at the Salon of 1896 and subsequently exhibited it in the 1897 Exposition Internationale in Brussels where it was received well by critics. Overall, the work represents Jeannin at his most thoughtful and is unquestionably the masterpiece of his oeuvre.

Dated 1896

Canvas: 35 1/4" high x 46 1/4" wide
Frame: 51 3/4" high x 62 1/8" wide

Paris Salon, 1896
Exposition Internationale, Brussels, 1897
Le raboteur by Maurice Jeannin
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: France
Type: Paintings
Depth: 5.0 Inches
Width: 62.13 Inches
Height: 51.75 Inches
Style: Realism
Canvas Width: 46.25 Inches
Canvas Height: 35.25 Inches

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