Biography

Forain was born in Reims, Marne but moved to Paris aged eight. He began his career working as a caricaturist for several Paris journals including Le Monde Parisien. Wanting to expand his horizons, he enrolled at the École des Beaux Arts, studying under Jean-Léon Gérôme. He became the youngest artist to frequent and participate in the feverish debates led by Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas at the Café de la Nouvelle Athènes.

A follower and protégé of Degas, Forain joined the Impressionist circle in time to take part in the fourth independent exhibition in 1879, and he would participate in three of the four landmark shows that followed between 1879 and 1884. Influenced by Impressionist theories on light and color, he preferred to depict scenes of everyday life: his watercolors, pastels, and paintings focused on Parisian popular entertainments and themes of modernity-the racetrack, the ballet, the comic opera, and bustling cafés.

In his later years, Forain created numerous scenes of the Law Courts and other Parisian institutions plus social satire caricatures on late 19th and early 20th century French life. In 1931, shortly before his death, he was made a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was one of France's best known and revered artists during his time and may best be remembered for his numerous drawings chronicling and commenting on Parisian city life at the end of the 19th century. Followers and admirers of Forain's work include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

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Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

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