Desboutin, Marcellin

under construction

Marcellin(-Gilbert) Desboutin (1823-1902)



Was Desboutin an Impressionist?
Early on in Italy Desboutin was befriended with Degas and De Nittis. 1873 onwards in Paris in Café Guerbois and Café Nouvelles Athènes he had contacts with Impressionists and related artists. He made many portraits of them including the Impressionists Degas, Renoir, Morisot, Lepic and also of related painters like Puvis de Chavannes, Goeneutte, Courbet, Manet and also of related art-critics like Zola, Burty, Duranty and also Hoschedé and Durand-Ruel. Desboutin himself posed for Renoir, Degas, Somm and Manet. In this way you could say he was part of the impressionist art-movement. But after his debut in 1869 at the Salon, Desboutin would exhibit yearly 1873 onwards after he moved to Paris. He didn’t join the ‘Société Anonyme des Artistes…’ and only joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions one time in 1876. In that sense he was not part of the impressionist art-movement.
Desboutin most of all is famous for his portraits in (dry point) etchings (iR4). He renders his portraits in a free, lively, informal and improvised way (iR4). His (oil) portraits were in a neo-baroque, dark and detailed style (R3). In his paintings Desboutin used many browns and blacks and didn’t use a juxtaposed brushstroke. The influence of light on the colours seem absent. In that way he didn’t paint in an impressionistic style.


Desboutin only joined the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition:
At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition Desboutin showed at least 20 works (catalogue numbers 60-72) (R2,p161). At least 12 of them were dry point etchings.
See link for his -/-art-works exhibited in 1876. See link for an +/-account.


Marcellin-Gilbert Desboutin and the Salon:
Desboutin made his debut at the Salon in 1869. 1873 onwards, after he had moved to Paris, he would yearly exhibit at the Salon, even in 1876 when he also joined with the ‘impressionist’ exposition. He would do so until 1889. Only at the Salon of 1877 Desboutin is called a pupil of Drölling and Robert-Fleury (iR1). In 1882 and 83 he exhibited exempté (iR1). From 1890-1902 he exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. (iR1)
See link for his -/-art-works at the Salon. See link for an +/-account.


Marcellin-Gilbert Desboutin as an artist:
Desboutin had lived in Florence a life of luxery (R71,p108). Since 1870 he lived in Paris (with his dog) in a bohemien way, his studio being a ruin (R71,p108).  Manet portrayed him as a tormented bohemien in 1875 (R71,no202).


Marcellin-Gilbert Desboutin, a short biography: 

  • 1823/08/26 Marcellin-Gilbert Desboutin was born in Cérilly (Allier), west of Moulins and about 300km south of Paris (iR24;iR70)
  • Desboutin was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family and signed as ‘Baron de Rochefort’ (iR70;iR3)
  • 1845 entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (iR70)
  • 1845 studied under the sculptor Louis-Jules Etex (R3;iR70;iR3)
  • 1847-8 studied under Thomas Couture (iR70;iR65;R3)
  • 1849-54 travels to England, Belgium, the Netherlands (and Italy) (iR70;iR3)
  • Desboutin maries his first wife Justine Gaultier de Biauzat
  • 1854 his daughter Marie was born (iR4)
  • 1854/7-70/3 Desboutin lived in Italy, especially in ‘villa dell’Ombrellino’ in Florence , and was a host for many, among them Degas and De Nittis (iR65;R3;iR1;R9;R259)
  • 1857-74 Desboutin was influential on Italian artists within the ‘Macchiaioli’ group (iR70)
  • Desboutin maries his second wife Dominica Bellardi
  • 1870 his son Andre (Mycho) is born (he would die in 1937; iR4)
  • By speculating he was ruined (R3;R9;iR3)
  • Lived several years in Geneva (R3)
  • 1873 moved to Paris, 10, Rue d’Arcet (Batignolles) (iR1;R3)
  • Contacts with Degas and Manet in Café Guerbois (R3)
  • Meets Zola at Manet’s house (iR3)
  • 1873 Desboutin inspired De Nittis in printmaking (iR70)
  • 1874 moved to 32, Rue des Dames (Batignolles) (iR1)
  • 1875 or later: Desboutin inspired Goeneutte in engraving, etching and dry point (iR70)
  • 1875 and 76: Desboutin is a model for Manet and Degas and is mostly mentioned for this (R5,p190;R8,p22+230)
  • 1876 visits Café de la Nouvelle Athènes (R3).
  • 1876 moved to 21, Rue de Bréda (iR1;R2,p161). I could only find this adres in Montluçon, which is 40km south of his birth place Cérilly.
  • 1878 his son Jean-François (called Tchiquine) is born in Paris; he also will become a painter and will die in 1951 (iR4)
  • Lives like a bohemian, without money with his wife and 8 children (R3). Note: the French Wikipedia site mentions only 3 children (iR4).
  • 1879 Degas planned to include Desboutin for a monthly, illustrated journal of prints, to be entitled ‘Le jour et la nuit’ (R4,p205).
  • 1880 Desboutin introduces Henri Rochefort, a communard who had been exiled and recently returned. They both portray him (R5,p123).
  • 1880/1 till 88 lives in Nice (R3;R9;iR3)
  • 1889 Durand-Ruel organised an exhibition with 167 dry point etchings by Desboutin; Zola wrote the introduction to the catalogue (iR65;R3)
  • 1890 Co-founder of the ‘Société National des Beaux-Arts‘ who will organize exhibitions at the Champ-de-Mars (R3;R9;iR3)
  • 1895/06/08 Member of the ‘Legion d’Honneur‘ (R3;iR3)
  • 1895 Signorini and Uzielli worked on a book about Desboutin (iR70)
  • 1895/6-1902 lives in Nice (R3;iR3)
  • 1900 receives a large price at l’Exposition Universelle (R3;R9)
  • 1900 his daughter Marie dies (iR4)
  • 1902/02/18 Marcellin-Gilbert Desboutin died in Nice, along the French Riviera (iR24)


My main sources are Moffett (1986, R2), Walther (2013, R3,p659), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9), Roe (2006=R4), Denvir (1993, R5), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3;iR4), RKD (iR24), Benezit (iR69), Grove Art Online (iR70) and Marques (iR65). My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6) and xx. See link for other general references (=R) and for other references to internet sites (=iR). For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading see:
Clément-Janin: La curieuse vie de Marcellin Desboutin: peintre, graveur, poète. Paris, 1922 (iR24;iR65;iR3).
?: Marcellin Desboutin. Musées de Nice, 1967 (iR24)
Bénézit (1976=R75=iR69), Busse (1977=R77), Witt Library (1978=R78), Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon Vol.26 (2000=R81=iR75) (see iR24).


Additional references:

  1. (the entire 5th Volume of Henri Beraldi: Les graveurs du XIXe siècle with works about Desboutin; =iR40 = R85V)
  2. (the entire 13th Volume of Henri Beraldi: Les graveurs du XIXe siècle with supplements about Desboutin; =iR40 = R85XIII)
  3. “Marcellin Desboutin.” In Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME). European Paintings and Drawings 1905-1915. Last modified Nov 4, 2019.  =iR261; overview of contributions of Desboutin in exhibitions and auctions from 1905-1915 (3 entries).
  4. (overview of his etchings)
  5. x



Citation: Please do not quote from this webpage, which is under construction. The information is incomplete and maybe partly incorrect.