Jean Louis Forain

Jean Louis Forain (French, 1852—1931) began his career providing caricature sketches of modern life for journals in Paris, but also briefly studied at the École des Beaux Arts (School of the Fine Arts). He fought in the Franco-Prussian War, returning to Paris in 1875, when he formed a close association with the Impressionists, particularly Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet. Forain employed the Impressionists’ bright colors and loose brushwork to depict modern Parisian life, especially behind-the-scenes interactions at the theater, the café, the racetrack, and the brothel. He exhibited paintings at four of the eight group shows that came to define Impressionism to the public.

Forain continued supplying Paris journals and newspapers with his satirical sketches, wrote and illustrated his own weeklies, Le Fifre (The Fife) in 1889, and Psst! in 1898, and produced etchings and lithographs of social and political subjects. After about 1902, he concentrated on painting biblical subjects and courtroom scenes done in somber grays and browns. Celebrated as France’s best known and beloved artist of his time, he was elected president of the Société National des Beaux Art in France, and shortly before his death in 1931, to the Royal Academy in London.