Terrain Vague

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Jean-François Raffaëlli (1850-1924), Terrain Vague, colored etching,  c. 1896, signed and numbered in black ink lower right. Reference: Lors Delteil 8, second state (of 2), in generally good condition (mat stain outside of the plate mark), the matrix excellent, printed on a laid ivory paper with the watermark MBM, 8 1/2 x 7 1/4, the sheet 8 5/8 x 13 1/2 inches.

A fine impression, delicately printed and colored.

Raffaëlli produced primarily costume pictures until 1876, when he began to depict the people of his time—particularly peasants,  workers, and rag pickers seen in the suburbs of Paris—in a realistic style. His new work was championed by influential critics such as J.-K. Huysmans as well as by Edgar Degas. The rag-picker became for Raffaëlli a symbol of the alienation of the individual in modern society. Art historian Barbara S. Fields has written of Raffaëlli’s interest in the positivist philosophy of Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine, which “led him to articulate a theory of realism that he christened caractérisme. He hoped to set himself apart from those unthinking, so-called realist artists whose art provided the viewer with only a literal depiction of nature. His careful observation of man in his milieu paralleled the anti-aesthetic, anti-romantic approach of the literary naturalists such as Zola and Huysmans.”

In the later years of his life, he concentrated on color printmaking.