Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)
of his exhibited works
Forain, an account of his exhibited works with the Impressionists and at the Salon:
Forain did not keep records of his production, he often did not date his works, he created many works bearing the same title and also different titles were given to the same work by Forain himself and by others (R43,p35). All this makes it hard to identify which works Forain exhibited with the Impressionists in 1879, 80, 81, 86 and at the Salon. Here below I give an account of the choices I’ve made and you will find additional information including translations and locations.
The 4th impressionist exposition of 1879:
- catalogue numbers 82-107
- in total Forain exhibited 26 works (and not 25 as Faxon mentions (R43,p20).
- 25 of them were aquarelles (watercolours and gouaches)
- 4x time indication of place
- 0x indication of time, season or weather
- 0x a study
- 19 loans (appartient à…), 4 of Mme Martin (97, 101, 102, 103), 3 of Hecht (no.88, 94, 96) and 2 of Alphonse Daudet (no. 105+106), 1 of Chéramy (no.86), 1 of Doucet (87), 1of Mme H. Lamy (90), 1 of Félix Bouchor (92), 1 of Jouron (93), 1 of Huysmans (95), 1 of Mme G.C… (98), 1 of Coquelin (99), 1 of Coquelin Cadet (100), 1 of Léon Hennique (107)
- my most important sources were Moffett (R2,p268), Berson (R90II,p112/3+131), Faxon (R43) and Browse (R50)
- see link for the pictures.
General reviews (R90I):
Bachaumont (1879/04/12) reviews ‘Among the watercolourists, the palm belongs to M. Louis Forain. This is contemporary life captured in its scenes and characters. These frequenters of the Folies-Bergère, these lively people at supper, this elegant woman, who has just put on her theatre costume, is of our times, and are well and truly marked by it. It is an art of observation, a philosophical art, if I may say so, and I confess that I much prefer it to that which gives us the little men and women, well dressed and well polished, who are the delights of the notables of Bottin retired from business.’ (R90I,p210/1).
Besson (1879/04/11) reviews ‘I am looking for the impression of an entr’acte, or of a folly, even a shepherdess, or of a theatrical exit, and I cannot find them. ‘ (R90I,p213).
Leroy (1879/04/17) reviewed: ‘From M. Forain, I recommend to serious amateurs, an amazing coat passed by a waiter to a dandy who has just dined with a sweetheart in a private cabinet. (…) A malicious person took the liberty of saying “fairground painting”, thus playing on the name of the artist. Shameful laziness that made me shrug my shoulders in pity.’ (R90I,p227)
J. de Tarade (1879/04/27) reviewed: ‘M. L. Forain, a very young man, already known as a fanciful draughtsman, exhibits a series of watercolour sketches which are not lacking in flavour; from a large number of imperfections emerge serious qualities of originality. – Look at the numbers 92, 85, 87. But Mr. Forain must have the courage to resist the current; if he wants to study seriously, he will arrive.’ (R90I,p244).
Catalogue 1879 (R2,p268;R90I,p205;iR1):
4IE-1879-82 Portrait de M. M…
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson, which also means there were no reviews.
To compare I give: 18xx, portrait of a man (R. de Montesquiou), 81×65, private.
4IE-1879-83 Portrait de M. Coquelin Cadet , dans le Sphinx
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves it unidentified and refers to a review in Le Soir (1879/04/12) in which is mentioned that he is portrayed by Forain and Degas and did loan some works (R90I,p241). A review of X (1879/05/10) which could apply to number 84 + 85, but also to no.83, mentions ‘Some portraits of the same artist: Messrs X … father and son. Missing are Mrs X … and the little X …’ (R90I,p252). Coquelin Cadet owned no.100.
As a very uncertain suggestion I give: 18xx, Portrait of an Actor, xx, Philadelphia MA.
4IE-1879-84 Portrait de M. H…
Perhaps portrait of M Huysmans (pastel) now in Musée de Versailles (R2,p268;R50,p75;R90II,p112). Note: the catalogue indicates this work was a watercolour. Berson refers to a review of X (1879/05/10) which could apply to number 84 + 85, but also to no.83 ‘Some portraits of the same artist: Messrs X … father and son. Missing are Mrs X … and the little X …’ (R90I,p252).
To compare I give a pastel, now in Musée d’Orsay. This pastel is the only work Faxon refers to (R43,p25).
4IE-1879-85 Portrait de M. H…
Perhaps portrait of M. Huysmans now in Versailles (R2,p268;R50,p75;R90II,p112). Berson refers to a review of De Tarade (1879/04/27) in which he praises the originality of the numbers 92, 85 and 87 (R90I,p244). Note that he doesn’t combine no.84 and 85. Berson refers to a review of X (1879/05/10) which could apply to number 84 + 85, but also to no.83 ‘Some portraits of the same artist: Messrs X … father and son. Missing are Mrs X … and the little X …’ (R90I,p252). I wonder if no.84+85 both were portraits of Huysmans. As Hecht owned 3 of the works Forain exhibited, it is also presumable that he portrayed Hecht.
To compare I give: 18xx, portrait of a man, xx, auctioned 2006/06/21.
4IE-1879-86 Intérieur de café; appartient à M. Chéramy
Perhaps now in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre (R2,p268 or now: 1879ca, At the Café, gouache, 33×26, Wisselingh & Co Naarden (R2,p282). Forain has made many watercolours of café interiors, what makes it impossible to identify (R2,p282). Berson leaves out this work, which also means there were no reviews
4IE-1879-87 Fin d’un souper; appartient à M. Doucet
Eng.: at the end of the supper / evening meal. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson refers to a review of Bachaumont (‘these lively people at supper’), Huysmans, Leroy (‘an amazing coat passed by a waiter to a dandy who has just dined with a sweetheart in a private cabinet’) and De Tarade (R90II,p112). De Tarade (1879/04/27) in which he praises the originality of the numbers 92, 85 and 87 (R90I,p244). Huysmans (1883) extendedly reviewed this work in 1880: ‘But perhaps the most surprising of these watercolours was the one depicting a private restaurant cabinet, seen as the gentleman and lady are about to leave. In the red cabin, furnished with a worn-out couch, a fireplace embellished by a clock that doesn’t work, the gentleman holds out his arms to the boy, the slightly sarcastic eye in the affected indifference of his face, rises behind him, and passes him the sleeves of his coat, while the woman puts her hat in front of the mirror, scratched with initials and crossed out with names. On the right, an entire corner of the table, the check in a plate, the cigar box, small glasses, chair backs cut by the frame; on the floor, the boy’s polished feet glistening in the shadows. It is, caught in the act, the sadness of the private cabinets, while the woman, with her arms raised, a piece of nostril sticking out between her two elbows, is carefully tugging at her head, without taking any notice of the gentleman who, after having paid for the shelter and the additional, look, in front of him, bewitched by the talk of the tête-a-tête, by the heat, by the interrupted work of digestion, harassed by the servant who shakes his arms and back. ‘(R90I,p289). Berson also refers to (the Catalogue Raisonné) by Alicia Faxon (1982,no11). Faxon no.82 describes a scene in a private cabinet (R43,p82). Berson also renders an etch that renders a same theme and that fits the discribtion of Huysmans very well; I will render it to compare: 18xx, Le Quart d’heure de Rabelais, etch ps, 19×20, SKs dresden (R90II,p131+112;R43;R90I,p227). To compare I also give a later watercolour with partly the same theme: 1900ca, the butler and the gentlemen, wc gouache, 39×28, A2008/12/04 (iR11;R90I,p227); and also: 18xx, Après le repas (after the meal), 52×46, auctioned 2011/08/15.
4IE-1879-88 Loge d’actrice; appartient à M. Hecht
Eng.: Box of the actrice. Faxon and Moffett suggest, with a perhaps L’Admirateur, MFA Houston (R2,p268;R43), referring to a review of Besson, Berson rules this suggestion out: ‘The actress’s dressing room, where we see an enormous actress putting on her corset in front of a man dressed in green, has no other merit than to be improper’. (R90I,p213/4). Pierre Véron (1879/04/19) reviews ‘I again recommend a lady who puts on her corset. But it is better that she puts it on than take it off, the unfortunate woman! for one shudders to think what one would see falling from it. (…) What I find particularly shocking about these comicalities is that they feel deliberate. It is premeditated mystification. (R90I,p250). X (1879/05/10) just mentions the title (R90I,p252).
Still to compare I render: 1877-79ca, The Admirer, xx, MFA Houston .
4IE-1879-89 Sortie de théâtre; appartient à Mme H. Lamy
Perhaps now in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre (R2,p268). Besson reviews ‘A ‘gandin’ in charge is leaning against an empty wall: the painter calls this “Sortie de théâtre” (R90I,p213). Bachaumont (referring to no.89-92?) remarks ‘this elegant woman, who has just put on her theatre costume’ (R90I,p210).
Is Mme H. Lamy the wife of Franc Lamy?
To compare I give a later work: 1885ca, Leaving the Theater, Night-Time Scene (à mon ami Zachari Astruc), gouache, 33×25, DGG Memphis.
4IE-1879-90 Pourtour des Folies-Bergère ; appartient à M. May
4IE-1879-91 Pourtour des Folies-Bergère ; appartient à M. Félix Bouchor
4IE-1879-92 Pourtour des Folies-Bergère ; appartient à M. Hecht
No.90-92: Eng.: Gallery of the ‘Folies-Bergère’. The Folies-Bergère was a café where concerts and variety shows were given (R3,p651; see). These works are perhaps now in the cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre or in WA Hartford (R2,p268). Berson refers to a review of De Tarade (1879/04/27) in which he praises the originality of the numbers 92, 85 and 87 (R90I,p244). Note that he doesn’t combine the numbers 90, 91 and 92. Besson reviews ‘A lady in white talks with two gentlemen in suits. It is called: “Pourtour des Folies-Bergère” (R90I,p213). Duranty (1879/04/19) reviews ‘A young man, M. Forain, has his watercolours generally taken “Pourtour des Folies-Bergère”; it’s a bit like colourful gossip, and therefore frozen, constrained, but, as in any gossip, funny words and jokes slip in.’ (R90I,p219). Bachaumont (referring to no.89-92?) remarks ‘this elegant woman, who has just put on her theatre costume‘ (R90I,p210).
As a very uncertain suggestion I give: 1878ca, The Bar at the Folies-Bergère (Scène de café), gouache, 32×20, BM New York (iR6;R50,p96;R43,p16). To compare I also give two etchings.
4IE-1879-93 Entr’acte ; appartient à M. Jouron
Eng.: intermission. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Besson reviews ‘Three gentlemen talking: “entr’acte”. (R90I,p213).
To compare I render another intermission: 1879, Intermission on stage.
4IE-1879-94 Coulisses de théâtre ; appartient à M. Hecht
4IE-1879-95 Coulisses de théâtre ; appartient à M. Huysmans
Eng.: backstage at the theater. No.94-95: Perhaps in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre or in Boston PL (R2,p268). Berson refers to a review of X (1879/05/10) ‘A man, all alone, leans against a post, looking very sorry. He thought it was funnier than this.’ (R90I,p252). She identifies the work as: 18xx, Le protecteur dans les coulisses, ink and gouache, 32×24, A1966/12/07 (R90II,p113;iR14)
As uncertain options I give: 1xxx, Dans les coulisses, d30, auctioned 2006/12/01 (iR11) and: 1878, In the Wings, gouache, 36×26, private, (iR2;R3,p180). Forain made many paintings depicting the backstage / the wings of a theatre.
4IE-1879-96 Café d’acteurs ; appartient à M. Hecht
Perhaps now in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre (R2,p268). Berson omits this work, which also means there were no reviews.
To compare I give an undated café scene auctioned 2006/06/22 (iR11).
4IE-1879-97 Femme au café ; appartient à Mme Martin
According to Moffett probably now in Brooklyn MA (R2,p268). Berson leaves it unidentified (R90II,p213). X (1879/05/10) remarks ‘why not with vanille?’ (R90I,p252).
To compare I give a later work: 1885ca, At a Restaurant, gouache, 33×24, auctioned 2007/06/20 (iR2;iR11)
4IE-1879-98 Coin de salon ; appartient à Mme G. C…
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves it unidentified (R90II,p213). X (1879/05/10) just mentioned the title (R90I,p252). Berson remarks that at the Georges Charpentier sale there was the following work ’18xx, Coin de salon, chez M. Charpentier, watercolour, 30×18, HD1907/04/11-63 (R90II,p113).
As an uncertain suggestion I give: 1878, Parisian Salon, gouache, 41×33, DGG Memphis, (iR2)
4IE-1879-99 Cabotin en demi-deuil ; appartient à M. Coquelin
Eng.: actor / comedian partly in morning. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson, which also means there were no reviews.
As an uncertain option I give: 18xx, Head of a Woman with a Veil, xx, NSM Pasadena.
4IE-1879-100 Pourtour des Folies-Bergère ; appartient à M. Coquelin Cadet
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves it unidentified (R90II,p213). Berson remarks that at the Coquelin Cadet sale there was the following work ’18xx, Dans les coulisses, watercolour, 29×21, HD1909/05/26-63 (R90II,p113). See the same title in no.90-92.
To compare I give an etch.
4IE-1879-101 Éventail ; appartient à Mme Martin
4IE-1879-102 Éventail ; appartient à Mme Martin
4IE-1879-103 Éventail ; appartient à Mme Martin
4IE-1879-104 Éventail ; appartient à M. Angelo
Eng.: fan. 101-104 Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson, which also means there were no reviews. I give as a very uncertain suggestion a work that is now in Memphis. And to compare I give a work from 1903: ‘Eventail pour la bal Gavarni’ which has been auctioned in 2015. I couldn’t find more pictures of fans made by Forain.
4IE-1879-105 Un écran ; appartient à M. Alphonse Daudet
4IE-1879-106 Un écran ; appartient à M. Alphonse Daudet
105+106: Eng.: a screen. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson, which also means there were no reviews. I couldn’t find one picture of a screen made by Forain.
4IE-1879-107 Un dessin ; appartient à M. Léon Hennique
Eng.: a drawing. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson, which also means there were no reviews. This very common title makes this work hard to identify. Just as a suggestion I render maybe Forains most beautiful drawing: 18xx, La Comédie Parisienne, xx, PP Paris, (iR2).
The 5th ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1880:
- catalogue numbers 45-54
- according to Browse Forain also exhibited 2 works that were not in the catalogue (=hc=hors catalogue) (R50,p76+79); Moffett doesn’t take over this suggestion, though he uses her work as a source; Berson claims Browse her hc1 is no.47 and her hc2 is no.52, both being watercolours / gouaches.
- Note: Huysmans writes about a book of watercolours, illustrating a poem by Verlaine and describes one of them. Trianon mentions 5 watercolours and describes 2; Edmond Renoir mentions gouaches and gives 2 titles. The catalogue mentions 6 drawings, but probably they were all watercolours / gouaches.
- so in total Forain exhibited in 1880 12 works.
- 7 of them were drawings (no.47-52+hc2) and 2 etchings (no.53+54) and 1 gouache (hc1)
- 0x time indication of place
- 0x indication of time, season or weather
- 1x a study (no.46)
- 1 loans (appartient à…): no.45 of Mlle. V. de M.
- my most important sources were Moffett (R2,p311), Berson (R90II,p148/9+164/5), Faxon (R43) and Browse (R50)
- see link for the pictures.
General reviews (R90I):
Huysmans has an extended review, first looking back at the works he exhibited in 1879 ‘Another curious painter of certain corners of contemporary life is M. Forain. There is no one to capture, as he did, the surroundings of the Folies-Bergère, to translate all its attractive decay, all its libertine elegance. Last year (=1879), in addition to his views of the Folies, he exhibited backstage with dancers, with their little upturned beaks, of scary and celestial scams, talking with fat, obscene, paternal gentlemen, the Crevel of our time, and greedy young harlekins in their straight collars and black clothes; all stirring, alive, exhaling the smell of the atmosphere around them. (… = extendedly describing 4IE-1879-87, see above) (… = extendedly describing no.47+52a) . A student of Gérôme who did not teach him much, M. Forain studied his art alongside Manet and Degas, which in no way means that he alters or copies them; because he has a very special temperament, a very special vision. In his good days, when he is not content to be too easy and his design does not lean a little towards the load, M. Forain is one of the most uncompromising painters of modern life that I know.'(R90I,p289+290).
Edmond Renoir (1880/04/09) reviews ‘Parisians will stop in front of M. Forain’s gouaches; they will find familiar types; the point of charge with which he seasons them makes them quite pleasant; I will mention the Couloir des Folies-Bergère (the Corridor of the Folies-Bergère) et le Coin de salle du théâtre (the corner of the theatre hall). ‘ (R90I,p306).
Henry Trianon (1880/04/08) reviews ‘Finally, let us mention five watercolours by M. Forain: they are a little grotesque and, going beyond disinterested observation, throw themselves into caricature; but the drawing is there and so is the colour: it’s a window opened a bit like a devil into the world of little ladies and gentlemen. In one room, a regular in the first class is reading his newspaper, and in a restaurant, the owner, bald, napkin under the arm, who leans on his broad flat feet before the omnipotence of a damsel armed with a bouquet and followed by her staff.’ (R90I,p314)
Catalogue 1880: (R2,p311;R90I,p260;iR1)
5IE-1880-45 Actrice allant rentrer en scène; appartient à Mlle. V. de M.
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion, nor does Berson. Berson refers to reviews of J.L., Silvestre and A.E. (R90II,p148). A.E. (1880/04/05) reviews ‘No more so, however, than a tiny canvas by M. Forain, full of colour and frankness like those of M. Rouart.’ (R90I,p276). J.L. (1880/04/06) reviews: ‘M. Forain, who has made the actress (‘l’Actrice‘) an attractive speciality,’ (R90I,p295). Silvestre (1880/05/01) reviews ‘I particularly like his Actrice allant rentrer en scène, whose gesture is quite right and well found. This young artist remains essentially Parisian and has never ceased to be personal.’ (R90I,p307). I render: 1877-79ca, The Admirer, on wood, 15×20, MFA Houston (iR2;iR8), as an uncertain option, because it is a small work and full of colour; but it doesn’t seem the actrice is returning to the stage again.
As an uncertain suggestion I give: 18xx, Avant l’entree en scene ou danseuses dans l…, xx, xx.
5IE-1880-46 étude d’homme
Perhaps now in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre (R2,p310). Berson omits this work, which also means there were no reviews (R90II,p149).
To compare I give a later self-portrait: 1900ca, étude pour un autoportrait présumé, 82×65, auctioned 2018/03/ 23.
No.47-52: Eng.: drawing. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion for these numbers with a very general title. Compare 4IE-1879-107 with the same general title. Probably all these works were watercolours / gouaches, see above.
No.47: Berson arbitrarily refers to an extended review of Huysmans (R90II,p149), who reviews: ‘In a room tended in crimson red, a gentleman sits on a couch, his chin resting on the handle of his umbrella. In front of him, standing, opening their dressing gowns to show their bellies, women are trying to let him decide; a fat brunette, with tapped and blue flesh, a tall, dark-haired, beautiful Jewess, who looks on indifferently, without making the news, at a blonde with shapely legs in apple-green stockings with red stripes, a barriere-decorated roll, which laughs and, in the absence of a brief expedition, is eager to solicit champagne. Efforts in vain, wasted pains! – the gentleman will not come up and he will not pay for a drink either. If he is unable to play a polka on the piano, he will be politely invited to take Madeleine, it is to say the door. What is prodigious about this work is the power of reality that emerges from it; these girls are hostesses and not other girls, and if their postures, their irritating odour, their spoiled skin, The flames of the gas that illuminate this watercolour washed with gouache, with a truly uncanny precision of truth are, for the first time probably, so firmly, so straightforwardly rendered, their character, their bestial or infantile humanity is no less so. The whole philosophy of payed love is in this scene where, after having voluntarily entered, pushed by a beastly desire, the gentleman thought about it and, becoming colder, ended up remaining insensitive to the offers.’ (R90I,p289+290).
Berson arbitrarily refers to a review of Edmond Renoir who mentions a work called Couloir des Folies-Bergère.
Berson arbitrarily refers to review of Edmond Renoir, who mentions a work called Coin de salle du théâtre.
Berson arbitrarily refers to review of Trianon who describes a regular reading his paper (R90II,p149).
Berson arbitrarily refers to review of Trianon, who describes a restaurant scene (R90II,p149).
Berson arbitrarily refers to a review of Huysmans, who describes a book of watercolours with poems of Verlaine (R90II,p149): ‘In a different order of ideas, a book of watercolours, illustrating a poem by Verlaine, is singular and sinister. It’s called the walk of the vagabond in the Country (‘la Promenade du voyou à la campagne‘). (R90I,p290). Inspired by Richard Thomson, Berson herself renders 3 black-and-white copies (R90II,p164/5).
A short, stocky man in a long coat, his sideburns flaring under his three-piece coat, walks with his lady, a tall, stony woman, with floppy sweaters, her belly in front making her dress rise, in a countryside which is nothing more than a footpath perpetually bounded by the ramparts. It is a translation that brings to reality the fantasy of the writer who lends this verse to a puppet: “I don’t spit on Paris, it’s really nice, And as I have the soul of a poet, every Sunday, I leave my box, And I am leaving, with my companion, to the countryside.” M. Verlaine’s overdone rascal has been avoided by M. Forain, who has enlarged the scene and turned it into a mournful idyll. A little shiver runs down your spine when you examine the appalling appearance of these two beings.’ (R90I,p290). According to Berson 18xx, The stroll: satirical presentation, wc +ink, 28×20, Kh Bremen (R90II,p149).
According to Berson 18xx, Au café du parc, wc +ink, 28×19, A1981/12/01 (R90II,p149;R15). Note: not described by Huysmans.
According to Berson 18xx, Après-midi au parc, wc + ink, 28×19, A1981/12/01 (R90II,p149;R15). Note: not described by Huysmans.
53+54: Eng.: etch. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion for these two works with a very general title. Berson omits this work, which also means there were no reviews (R90II,p149). I render 2 of his many etchings.
5IE-1880-54+hc1 Le client (Maison close)
Eng.: the client (whorehouse). According to Browse (R50,p76+79) Forain exhibited this work in 1880. This work is not in the catalogue and not mentioned by Moffett (R2,p311). This gouache is extendidly described by Huysmans (R90I,p289+290). Berson arbitrarily links it to no.47. (R90II,p149).
5IE-1880-54+hc2 La promenade du voyou à la Campagne
Eng.: The walk of the vagabond in the country. Browse adds: illustration to Verlaine’s poem, so I assume this was a drawing. Browse mentions this work in an overview of exhibited works in 1880. This work is not in the catalogue and not mentioned by Moffett (R2,p311). This watercolour is extendidly described by Huysmans (R90I,p290). Berson arbitrarily links it to no.52, naming 3 works. (R90II,p149).
The 6th ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1881:
- catalogue numbers 20-29
- in total Forain exhibited in 1881 10 works.
- 4 of them were drawings (no.26-29), 3 water colours (no.22-24) and 1 pastel (no.25)
- in his suggestions Moffett (R2,p354) often follows Browse (R50)
- 1x time indication of place
- 0x indication of time, season or weather
- 0x a study
- 1 loans (appartient à…): no.22 of M. E. Blum and no.23 of M. A. Meyer
- my most important sources were Moffett (R2,p354), Berson (R90II,p180/1+190/1), Faxon (R43) and Browse (R50)
- see link for the pictures.
General reviews (R90I):
There were several reviews. Some just mention the works like Gonzague-Privat, Vernay. Most don’t describe it like Alisy, Goetschy, +Havard, Elie de Mont., Palette, Le Petit Parisien, Comtesse Louise, Silvestre, Trianon.
André Michel (1881/04/04), probably referring to no.22+23, just mentions: ‘It is sufficient to point out two small frames of Mr. Forain, who benefit from the position.’ (R90I,p359).
Dalligny (1881/04/08), probably referring to no.22+23, just mentions: ‘M. Forain’s backstage scenes, reminiscent of Daunier (sic), are amusing, witty and show a certain vigour.’ (R90I,p335)
Enjoiras (1881/04/12), probably referring to no.22+23, just mentions: ‘I want to point out two more very luminous watercolors by Forain: he excels in painting modern types of theatre women, woman of ill repute and gentlemen in black suits. It is a very lively and personal note.’ (R90I,p341).
Catalogue 1881: (R2,p354;R90I,p326;iR1)
6IE-1881-20 Au théâtre, peinture
According to Moffett perhaps now in Musée Carnavalet in Paris or NGA Washington (R2,p354). Berson leaves it unidentified, but she refers to a letter of Alicia Faxon, who suggests: La loge in Musée Carnavalet Paris or Behind the scenes in the NGA Washington (R90II,p180), probably the same suggestions as Moffett. Havard (1881/04/03) reviews ‘When we have done M. Forain the justice that his vigorous pochades deserve Au Théâtre and Loge d’actrice, a happy reminiscence of Damier; ‘ (R90I,p347). Forain painted many theatre scenes. As an alternative suggestion I give: 1880ca, At the Theater, Orchestra Seats, 26×31, DGG Memphis.
6IE-1881-21 Coin de Bal masqué à l’Opéra, peinture
According to Browse very possibly 1880ca, Un bal a l’Opera, 31×39, private collection in Paris (R50,p99). Moffett follows (R2,p354). Berson leaves it unidentified, but repeats the suggestion of Browse (R90II,p181). There were no reviews. As another option I suggest also: Ball in the Paris Grand Opera, 74×61, Puskin (iR6;R3,p262). This work is dated around 1885ca, but looking at the similarities with the painting in Paris I assume this one was also made around 1880. Maybe it was a study for the Paris painting as it looks less finished.
6IE-1881-22 Loge d’actrice, aquarelle ; appartient à M. E. Blum
Moffett suggests 1880, visit à la loge (d’actrice), water colour + gouache, 28×23, Auctioned in 2011 (R2,p354+364). Berson affirms (R90II,p181+190). I follow. Huysmans reviews ‘The other shows an actress sitting in her dressing room in front of a toilet seat. Not yet made up, and rejuvenated, she appears, all white, on the background of the walls, in the glow filtered by one of those vast lampshades, now in fashion, the shape of which reminds us of the pipe dresses worn by our grandmothers. A gentleman, standing with his hand on the back of an armchair, examines her while she looks in a mirror, the head pulled back a little by the hairdresser whose prodigious throat bulges.’ (R90I,p353). Geffroy (1881/04/19) reviews ‘His watercolours, Loge d’actrice, Couloir de théâtre, spiritually oppose the ugliness of men to the nasty gracefulness of women. The artificial lights and heavy shadows, the pale flesh and black clothes reproduce well the fantastic aspect of these very real scenes.’ (R90I,p343)
6IE-1881-23 Couloir de théâtre, aquarelle ; appartient à M. A. Meyer
Eng.: the (narrow) corridor / hallway of the theater. According to Browse perhaps ‘La rencontre au foyer’ (entre-acte), 34×22, private collection in London (R50,p79). Moffett follows (R2,p354). Maybe the owner was Alfred Meyer. Compare 5IE-1880-48. Huysmans reviews ‘a couloir de théâtre, people in black clothes, in the midst of which a large woman in a garnet-coloured dress advances, and the men move away or estimate her while the man on whose arm she places her gloved hand, inclines towards her the usual stupid smile of people who do favours.’ (R90I,p353). Geffroy (1881/04/19) reviews ‘His watercolours, Loge d’actrice, Couloir de théâtre, spiritually oppose the ugliness of men to the nasty gracefulness of women. The artificial lights and heavy shadows, the pale flesh and black clothes reproduce well the fantastic aspect of these very real scenes.’ (R90I,p343)
This suggestion of Browse is disputable. As I understand it a ‘couloir’ is something else than a ‘foyer’, which is more spacious and where drinks are served. So as an alternative option I also suggest: 18xx, The Dialogue, 70×55, private, (iR2;iR11). Forain made many theatre scenes. It would be nice if an expert of the theatre world would comment the titles and works of Forains theatre scenes so identification can be made more accurate.
6IE-1881-24 Marine, aquarelle ;
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson omits this work, which also means there were no reviews (R90II,p181). As a very uncertain option I give: 1877, Vue du mont Valérien depuis les quais de la Seine, wc, 16×27, auctioned 2012/03/29. This is more a river scene than a marine, but I couldn’t find any real marine.
6IE-1881-25 Portrait de Mlle Madeleine C…, pastel
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson omits this work, which also means there were no reviews (R90II,p181). As a very uncertain suggestion I give: 1xxx, portrait of a woman (with a red plume hat), pastel, 55×39, auctioned 2017/05/11.
No.26-29: Eng.: drawing. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion for these works. Berson omits these works, which also means there were no reviews (R90II,p181). Compare with the same general title 1879-107 + 1880-47-52. I just render 4 undated drawings to give an impression of the many drawings Forain made and he could have exhibited in 1881.
The 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition of 1886:
- catalogue numbers 29-41
- Moffett also suggests a work that was not in the catalogue (=hc=hors catalogue)
- so in total Forain (J.-L.) exhibited in 1886 14 works.
- 6 of them were probably drawings (no.39-40)
- in his suggestions Moffett (R2,p444) sometimes follows Browse (R50) and others
- 4x time indication of place
- 0x indication of time, season or weather
- 3x a study (no.35,36,39)
- 8 loans (appartient à…): 2 of Durand-Ruel (no.29+33), 1 of Menier (30), Mme. T. (34), Mme de P (37), le comte de F. (38), Mme S. (39), Donnadille (40)
- my most important sources were Moffett (R2,p444), Berson (R90II,p241/2+259/260), Faxon (R43) and Browse (R50)
- see link for the pictures.
General reviews (R90I):
Adam (1886/04) reviewed ‘M. Forain sometimes borrows the brush of Jean Béraud, other times, that of Nittis; then he is indifferent. If he limits himself to his personal way, he becomes one of the most extraordinary exponents of modernism.’ (R90I,p428).
Jean Ajalbert (1886/06/20) reviewed: ‘he presents the grotesque and the ridiculous without pushing to the charge;'(R90II,p431).
Fénéon (1886/06/13-20) reviewed ‘The exhibition of Mr. Jean-Louis Forain is struggling. This man, who, ‘Japonais’ at first, ‘Manetiste’ later, had finally arrived at such an acute expression, expeditious and nervous of the life in the gaslight, backstage, brothels, gets cozy, puts himself at the door of all the kindnesses; last year he was at the Salon de l’Industrie; he will reintegrate this asylum, and his works will be next to those of MM. Gervex and Jean Béraud. However, here is a Forain from the past: (reviews no.37).’ (R90I,p442)
Fouquier (1886/06/16) reviewed ‘M. Forain has not so far passed for a suspect impressionist. (…) M. Forain is the real triumph of the rue Lafitte exhibition.’ (R90I,p448).
Geffroy (1886/05/26) reviewed ‘… always show a talent for expressing worldly elegance, the black-robed wedding, vicious grace.’ (R90I,p450).
Hennequin (1886/06/19) reviews ‘Mr. Frain, who is a bit like the ‘Jacquet’ (backgammon) of the group, uses elegance and modesty to paint pretty women in diffuse strokes;’ (R90I,p454).
Hermel (1886/05/28) reviewed ‘He is a joker who grasps with singular sharpness the ridiculousness of fashions and the comicality of physiognomies. His spiritual, expressive and nervous drawing vividly brings out the unconscious comicality of people, (…) Mr. Forain is first and foremost a caricaturist.’ (R90I,p457).
Octave Maus (1886/06/27) reviewed ‘(Forain), when he studies our elegant and vicious ways, has given his works a special flavour. He is the poet of corruption in black clothes, of boudoir dandyism, of the high life masking the emptiness of the heart.’ (R90I,p463).
X (1886/05/18) reviewed ‘His large pastel is extremely noticeable.’; Berson suggests this refers to no. 31, but this is not clear; no work was called a pastel in the catalogue.
Catalogue 1886: (R2,p444;R90I,p422;iR1)
8IE-1886-29 Femme à sa toilette; appartient à M. Durand Ruel
Browse suggests ‘Femme à sa toilette’, 1884ca, 65×55, now in a private collection in London (R50,p81). Moffett follows, so does Berson (R90II,p241+259); I do also. X (1886/05/18) just mentions the title (R90I,p473), there are no other reviews.
8IE-1886-30 Place de la Concorde; appartient à M. Menier
Moffett suggests 1884, Place de la Concorde, 71×51, private collection in England (R2,p444+429), so does Berson (R90II,p241+260). I follow. There were several reviews (R90II,p241). X (1886/05/18) reviews ‘His young man who comes out of the circle and lights his cigar at night on the pipe of a sweeper is a page of a charming realism and that everyone would be pleased to possess.’ (R90I,p473) Labruyère (1886/05/17) reviews ‘a pastel of grand value’ (R90I,p460).
8IE-1886-31 Portrait de Mme W.
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves it unidentified, but refers to several reviews. Jean Ajalbert (1886/06/20) reviews: ‘His large portrait, harmonious of outline, and well arranged, will undoubtedly bring him many commissions;’ (R90II,p431). Christophe (1886/06/13) reviews ‘Then, Mr. J.-L. Forain, who, this year, by a considerable portrait, very well done, of Mrs. W. (a blond, in lilac, with a high chamois coat, on a pink cushioned couch, with, behind, a garden with green trees) wanted to prove to us that he would be, if he wanted, a superior Gervex – a vain demonstration,’ (R90I,p436). Fèvre (1886/05-06) reviews ‘and a large portrait, but very pale, very empty, and not as good as his gigantic collection of Parisian coleopteres, on the canvas by his pencil pointed as by a pin. ‘ (R90I,p446). Fouquier (1886/06/16) reviews ‘The Portrait de Mme W…, in a blue dress on a green background, is an important and interesting page in the work of M. Forain. The figure turns well in the air and seems, as they say in studio terms, modelled from the interior. It has consistency without heaviness, delicacy without sentimentality. Some details, particularly fortunate, reveal the eye of a true colourist: the white fan in nuanced contrast with the Suede gloves, a pink cushion that contrasts harmoniously with the tender and receding blue tones of the dress. No harsh accents that surprise and annoy. No brutality, no reports of dubious boldness. It is the work of a sincere, original and gifted artist. Only I admit that there are painters in the rue Laffitte who are more impressionistic than M. Forain. ‘ (R90I,p448). Roger Marx (1886/05/17) reviews ‘His large pastel is distinction and grace itself,’ (R90I,p461). Moniteur des arts (1886/05/21) reviewd ‘The portrait of Mrs. W. is a large and very decorative pastel, in which a demi-mondaine, in a pale blue dress, stands out gently against a raw green landscape, next to a marble column: a very large and successful piece. ‘ (R90I,p467) La Republique française (1886/05/17) reviewed ‘His charcoal portrait of a woman is very beautiful;’ (R90I,p472); note Berson refers this to no. 31, but is this just?
As a very uncertain suggestion I give: 18xx, Portrait de femme au chapeau, 73×60, auctioned 1999/11/02 (iR11)
8IE-1886-32 Portrait de Mme S.
Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves it unidentified, but refers to several reviews. But none of the reviews give a discription.
As an uncertain suggestion I give: 18xx, portrait of a lady (à Mathilde Salle), xx, auctioned 2006/06/21.
8IE-1886-33 Femme respirant des fleurs; appartient à M. Durand Ruel
Eng.: Woman smelling / breathing in flowers. Moffett suggests 1883ca, Woman with a Fan, pastel, 90×79, now in Memphis (R2,p444+455), Berson follows (R90II,p241+260). But this work is a pastel, which is not indicated in the catalogue. By lack of alternative I follow Moffett and Berson, who refers to 5 reviews. X just mentions the work.
8IE-1886-34 Femme fumant une cigarette; appartient à Mme. T.
Eng.: Woman smoking a cigarette. Following Faxon Moffett suggests with a perhaps a work in the Cabinet des Dessins in the Louvre. Berson leaves it unidentified and emphasizes that the reviews refer to a pastel and not to a watercolour as suggested by Moffett; but when I look at the reviews she refers to, I can’t find that they call this work a pastel (R90II,p242).
As a very uncertain suggestion I give: 1882-5ca, The Box (At the Skating Café), 65×93, MFA Boston (iR2;R43,p38). The woman in the middle is smoking a cigarette.
8IE-1886-35 Tête d’étude
8IE-1886-36 Tête d’étude
no. 35+36: Eng.: studie of a head. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion for these works, nor does Berson, who refers to 6 reviews. Adam (1886/04) reviews: ‘But if the pastelist wants to establish in a physiognomy the tone of an epoch and an age… In that way Tête d’étude: a young girl whose hair and skin do not even reach the tone of dry hemp. His youth, marked by the bright red of thin and elongated lips; -covered to the iris by the bloodless eyelids, too heavy, gray eyes that accompany the sad smile of the lips, lips with soft, mocking corners -the slender neck, so thin, that it will bend and crack. The cheekbones are prominent; however, there are round cheeks; – they say that one is still very young to have so much flesh. Soon this flesh will become thinner, will disappear, will melt in the dark tones of the skin; and the fine hair is grey rather than blond, grey like the reflections of the pink wall hanging where the figure smiles and is signed to be so attractive.’ (R90I,p428/9). Darzens (1886/05) reviews ‘serious studies of a female head’ (R90I,p439); it seems he means two studies of one head. Fèvre reviews ‘in pastels, vicious and nicely annoying faces of chicks,’ (R90I,p444). Hennequin (1886/06/19) reviews ‘and a strange ‘tête d’étude’ on a grey background are the most interesting.’ (R90I,p454). Paulet (1886/06/05) reviewed ‘his pastel portraits’ (R90I,p469).
As very uncertain suggestions I give: 18xx, Bust of a Small Boy in a Red Coat, 46×40, FM Cambridge and: 18xx, Tête de femme (Young Lady with Hat Decorated with Cherries), 64×53, auctioned 2017/10/15 (iR11;iR10).
8IE-1886-37 Jeune fille au bal; appartient à Mme de P.
Following Faxon (no.8) Moffett suggests with a perhaps a work in the Galerie Reichenbach. Berson leaves the work unidentified; there were several reviews. X just mentions the work. Adam (1886/04) reviews: ‘To complete the caricature of the bourgeoisie, M. Forain excels particularly. He represents a mother admiring her daughter before the ball. In profile, the mother, clumsy in spite of the strings of the corset and of her pearly dress; and the curve of its four-sided back bulges out, breaking everything. The girl, with outlined ribs(?), is vaporizing, barely discernible in the tight green cloth. The light comes out of the folded paper lampshade and reveals a blue tapestry, of this blue that only the taste of the Parisian shopkeeper can choose. ‘ (R90I,p428). Jean Ajalbert (1886/06/20) reviews: ‘A fat woman, bursting out of her dress ready to break, is lecturing a girl, probably her own, in evening dress, sitting on a piano stool, in the clarity of a lamp with a piped shade.What does she say to her! recommendations, reproaches, not too much dancing… Mister such a… What do I know? But this mother, this daughter we know them to have met them; we danced with the young person under the draconian glance of the old matron, and the painter returned them to us as they are.'(R90II,p431). Fénéon (1886/06/13-20) reviews ‘a forty-year-old woman in a heavy red dress pours a flow of words on the top of the traingle in which her daughter has the gloomy tulle dress.’ (R90I,p442) Fèvre (1886/05-06) reviews ‘Or a cosy Gothon, with a snarling roundness, a Madame Josserand, with a gaudy feather on her head like a rooster, melodramatically lecturing her insect daughter, back from the ball, who has just missed a good matrimonial deal.’ (R90I,p446).
To compare I give a gouache: 1885ca, At the Masked Ball, gouache, 34×25, private.
8IE-1886-38 Femme en noir; appartient à M. le comte de F.
Eng.: woman in black. Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves the work unidentified and refers to a review of X, who just mentions the work (R90I,p473), there were no other reviews.
As an uncertain option I give: 18xx, Elégante à la robe noire dans un fauteuil, 46×37, auctioned 2016/09/14.
8IE-1886-39 Souvenir de Chantilly (esquisse en grisaille) ; appartient à Mme S.
Eng.: Souvenir from Chantilly (study on gray paper). I assume this is a drawing, but it is not clear. Following Faxon Moffett suggests a work in a private collection in Paris. Berson leaves the work unidentified; there were several reviews. Adam (1886/04) reviews: ‘Souvenir de Chantilly. The stormy sky and the track tarnished with lead, all the hues suffocated in this pale work that precedes a rain shower; alone, a wall, at the bottom, bursts with its pale whitewash. The crowd is swarming with people who wear the color of the sky; and among the fading of the air die themselves the raw colors of the jockeys’ helmets. In the gray, beards and binoculars bow and hats without gleam. The only high notes: a woman’s putty raincoat, and this back wall.’ (R90I,p428). Fèvre (1886/05-06) reviews ‘So often it is a confusion of crowds in black clothes and tubes, with the heads of sportsmen, on the racetrack of Chantilly, with a teasing face, or the red of a corner of an umbrella which pierces on this gray and baroque swarming, under a sky of charcoal, like a ribbon of decoration on a frock coat.’ (R90I,p446). Roger Marx (1886/05/17) reviews ‘and I do not think it is possible to put into a quickly translated impression more movement, more truthfulness than is found in the Souvenirs des courses de Chantilly. ‘ (R90I,p461). Paulet (1886/06/05) reviewed ‘its swarming picture of the Chantilly weighing house (for jockeys)’ (R90I,p469). La Republique française (1886/05/17) reviewed ‘his view of the racecourse. Visitors who still want to laugh will find a good opportunity here, with ‘intentional’ fans that look like child’s play. ‘ (R90I,p472).
Chantilly lies about 50km north of Paris (see map). Just to compare I give one of the few landscapes Forain drew: 1xxx, La Chaumière, drawing, 22×34, auctioned 2012/05/02.
8IE-1886-40 Un coin à l’Opéra (dessin à l’encre de Chine) ; appartient à M. Donnadille
Eng.: In the corner of the Opera (drawing with Chinese ink). Moffett doesn’t give a suggestion. Berson leaves the work unidentified; there were some reviews, but they don’t describe this work.
To compare I give: 1xxx, Un coin des coulisses de l’Opéra, gouache, 33×20, auctioned 2003/02/27. It seems that apart from gouache Forain has also used ink for the art-work.
8IE-1886-41 Pompier dans les coulisses de l’Opéra
Eng.: Fire-eater or fireman backstage in the Opéra or in the wings of the Opera. Following Chagnaud-Forain (no.28) Moffett suggests a work now in the Gallery Reichenbach (R2,p444). Berson affirms that the review of Ajalbert affirms this suggestion (R90II,p242+260); there were several reviews. Jean Ajalbert (1886/06/20) reviews: ‘Let’s mention the “Pompier dans la cooulisse”. He is lost in this world of singers, dancers, chorus girls, figurantes; these powdered breasts, these thighs in flesh suits, cheeks full of blush, the gazlight and the rise to the brain of the desires; and on the other side of the banister the sweaty room, intoxicating; lubricating, all this fever envelops the Fireman, naief, stiff, bewildered, with his hands behind his back, and his helmet on his back…'(R90II,p431).
To compare I give another work (one of many) depicting the wings of the Opera: 1883, un coin des coulisses de l’Opéra, gouache, xx, auctioned 2004/06/22.
8IE-1886-41+hc Portrait de Jacques-Emile Blanche
Moffett, following Faxon suggests: 1884, Portrait de Jacques-Emile Blanche, 64×40, MBA Rouen (R2,p444). Berson affirms (R90II,p242+260). Fèvre (1886/05-06) reviews ‘Or it is a kind of big Yankee, round and shaved, displaying a puffy pschuttism, a heavy pomp of parvenu.’ (R90I,p446). Octave Maus (1886/06/27) reviews ‘The Portrait de Jacques Blanche, a bit heavy-handed’ (R90I,p463). Blanche was a painter and an art-critic (R43,p36). I follow, rendering my own picture.
Forain at the Salon:
S1874-R Bouteille de Marasquin avec un paquet de biscuits
Eng.: A bottle with Marasquin (a sort of liquor) with a packet of cookies. His ‘Still-life with a bottle’ was refused (R43,p13;R50,p21;R89,p122). To compare I give one of his few known still lives: 1xxx, Nature morte, xx, auctioned 2005/10/26 (iR11).
Forain at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français (=SdAF):
SdAF-1883-2800 Souvenir du bal de l’Opéra ;
Dessins, cartons, aquarelles, pastels, miniatures vitraux, émaux, porcelaines, faïences
SdAF-1884-951 Le buffet
Now: 1883-4, Le buffet (La comédie français), 94×148, private (iR11;iR41;R50,p26+101;R43,p36)
SdAF-1885-993 Le veuf
Now: 1884-5, The widower,140×99, Orsay (iR6;R50,p26+102;R43,p57)
Forain at the Salon de la Société National des Beaux-Arts (=SNBA):
Forain probably also exhibited at the SNBA in 1890 and 92 (iR2).
Recommanded citation: “Jean-Louis Forain, an account of his exhibited works”. Last modified 2021/07/23. https://www.impressionism.nl/forain-account/.