In the Theater Foyer - Jean-Louis  Forain

In the Theater Foyer

Jean-Louis FORAIN
(Reims 1852 - Paris 1931)

Watercolour and white gouache on paper
H. 376 mm; W. 212 mm
Signed lower left: j.l.forain

Date: 1883

Provenance: Jane Renouard - Mrs Fernand Gravey
Private collection

Exhibited: Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931), La Comédie parisienne, Paris, Petit Palais, 10 March - 5 June 2011 - Memphis, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 26 June - 9 October 2011, p. 52, no. 35.

A native of Reims, Forain settled in Paris in 1864. Following a stint at the School of Fine Arts, during which he studied with Gérôme, Forain returned to Carpeaux’s studio. There, he acquired a sense of scale and sharpened his gift of observation.

The jury’s refusal of his painting for the Salon of 1874 led to his integration into the circle of independent artists led by Manet and Degas at the time. Being a part of this artistic and literary avant-garde was essential for Forain, who immersed himself in the impressionist theories of colour, light, and the representation of everyday life.

He spent time in the many different milieus that made up society of the era, the world of entertainment, of theatre and literature. He observed and illustrated with a critical eye the mannerisms and flaws proper to each of these circles, true to the spirit of the time, concerned by everyday scandals, bankers, brokers and politics. His style of drawing resembles those of his contemporaries Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec, and accounts for his reputation as a graphic commentator for various Parisian newspapers.

Drawn to the milieu of the theatre and opera, Forain was most interested by the world behind the scenes: in the wings where the actors got ready, in the dressing rooms where they jostled for the spotlight.

Our watercolour presents a perfect example: a portrait of an elegant woman demonstrating undeniable charm, a piece marked by the impressionist culture that so deeply influenced the career of the artist.

This watercolour will be included in the catalogue raisonné of the works of Jean-Louis Forain currently being compiled by Mrs. Florence Valdès-Forain.

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