Jean-François Raffaëlli

French (1850–1924)

L’homme aux Deux Pains  (Man with Two Loaves of Bread)

1879

Oil on canvas

Museum purchase with funds donated by The Collectors Circle

2007.8

Known for scenes of Paris and urban types, Raffaëlli briefly studied with academic painter Jean-Léon Gérome but participated in the 1880 and 1881 Impressionist Exhibitions, encouraged by Edgar Degas. Raffaëlli is associated with the Impressionsts more by virtue of subject matter than style. He was also a technical innovator: his bâtonet Raffaëlli was a medium between oil and pastel. 

This painting, possibly included in the 1880 Exhibition, is perhaps inspired by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, in which Jean Valjean is imprisoned for stealing bread. It takes place on the margins of society, symbolized by the edges of Paris. Such paintings culminated in Les Types de Paris (1889), an illustrated album with texts by writers like Zola, Maupassant, and Huysmans. These writers, like Raffaëlli, sought to reveal human “physiological and psychological constitutions.”

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