MARCELLIN DESBOUTIN (French / 1823-1901)

Marcellin Gilbert Desboutin was born in Cérilly, and died in Nice. His mother was an aristocrat, and Marcellin was a wealthy young man whose dabblings in literature and art were enthusiastic hobbies rather than career choices. He bought himself a grand villa outside Florence, where he lived from 1854, dealing in old master paintings, gambling, and generally squandering his fortune. Desboutin maintained contacts with the Paris art world, and was particularly close to Degas. In Florence he met and encouraged the Italian Impressionist Giuseppe de Nittis. Marcellin Desboutin returned to Paris in 1873, having ruined himself with unwise investments. Here he returned seriously to art, both painting and printmaking. Of all the Impressionists, Marcellin Desboutin devoted himself most fully to the art of the print. Desboutin specialized in portrait drypoints, often of fellow artists such as his friends Degas and Renoir. Desboutin's technique was to to quickly sketch a portrait on copper with a drypoint needle, to catch his subject in as relaxed and lifelike a pose as possible. He also made interpretative etchings after the work of others, such as our etching after Jozef Israëls. Despite his late start, Desboutin achieved some fame and success as an artist in the Bohemian circle of Manet and Degas; he exhibited six works at the Second Impressionist Exhibition. His tramp-like appearance made him the ideal model for the dishevelled absinthe drinker in Degas' canvas L'Absinthe (Dans un café). Desboutin appears, often smoking a pipe, in paintings by other artists, including Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Alexandre Falguière. From 1880 Desboutin lived mostly in Nice. See: Clément-Janin, La curieuse vie de Marcellin Desboutin, peintre, graveur, poète, 1922; Duplaix, Marcellin Desboutin, Prince des Bohèmes, 1985.

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Selected prints by MARCELLIN DESBOUTIN

Puvis de Chavannes, 1895
Willette (en
Pierrot), 1896
Jules Jacquemart, 1876

View all available prints by MARCELLIN DESBOUTIN