• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 47

    Jean François Raffaëlli (Paris 1850-1924)

    Élégante sur le Boulevard des Italiens, Paris

    Price Realised  


    Jean François Raffaëlli (Paris 1850-1924)
    Élégante sur le Boulevard des Italiens, Paris
    signed 'JFRaffaëlli' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    52½ x 46½ in. (133.4 x 118.1 cm.)
    Painted circa 1899.

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    Much like his friend Edgar Degas, Jean François Raffaëlli embodied what the French critic Charles Baudelaire famously described as 'the painter of modern life.' A detached observer amidst the crowds on the grand boulevards of a newly 'Haussmann-ized' Paris, Raffaëlli captured the spectacle of public life. In his early career, Raffaëlli's work tended towards Realism as he frequently painted the urban poor with a notable sense of compassion. In 1880 and 1881, Raffaëlli exhibited at the Impressionist exhibitions at Degas' urging despite, at the time, sharing few affinities with the group. Beginning in the 1890s, however, Raffaëlli changed course, focusing his attention on painting Paris' well-to-do.

    The subject of the present work, the Boulevard des Italiens, with its cafés and shops frequented by elegantly dressed men and women, became much like an outdoor stage for Raffaëlli where he could view the city's elite. The vivacity of this particular boulevard had also attracted the attention of the Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Gustave Caillebotte, both of whom painted panoramic bird's eye views of this bustling cityscape. By contrast, Raffaëlli presents an intimate street-level scene. Élégante sur le Boulevard des Italiens, Paris with its strongly cropped central figure suggests more the influence of Degas than Pissarro or Caillebotte. Indeed, the psychological isolation of the figures, the careful attention to fashion and the sense of capturing a private moment in a public space are all hallmarks of Degas' style. Most notably, however, Boulevard des Italiens reveals Raffaëlli's central belief that the artist's duty was to render the essence of contemporary society in which he lived.

    The authenticity of the present work has been confirmed by Galerie Brame et Lorençeau, Paris, and will be included in their forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist.


    Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

    Pre-Lot Text


    We are pleased to present the following works (47 and 359) from the collection of Raymond and Miriam Klein. Prominent Philadelphia-based collectors and philanthropists, the Kleins are remembered for both their indelible sense of style and for their generous support, not only in donations but also of their time, for local and international community-based causes including the Raymond and Miriam Klein Community Center in Tel Giborim, Israel, the Kimmel Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, as well as the Raymond and Miriam Klein Jewish Community Center in Northeast Philadelphia, which they founded in 1975.

    Long-time supporters and collectors of the fine and decorative arts, the Kleins built a collection with thoughtfullness and passion over thirty years ago. As with their unflagging committment to charitablecauses, the Kleins generously shared their resplendent apartment and collection as a regular venue for fundraising parties and balls throughout their lives.


    Carnegie Institute, 4th Annual International, 1899, no. 186, pl. 3.
    B. Fields, Jean-François Raffaëlli (1850-1924): The Naturalist Artist, PhD. diss., Columbia University, 1979, p. 329.
    K. Neal, A Wise Extravagance: The Founding of the Carnegie International Exhibitions, 1895-1901, Pittsburgh, 1996, p. 103, fig. 43.


    Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, 4th Annual International, 1899.
    Phildelphia Museum of Art, on loan.

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