(b. 1810, Paris, d. 1880, Honfleur)
French painter. After taking some printmaking and drawing lessons, he entered the studio of Cogniet at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1828. His academic training resulted in a warm palette and an attention to detail, but at the same time he also developed an unusual interest in depicting the wretched existence of the poor. In the 1830s he went his own course and mostly painted landscapes around Paris.
He made his debut at the Salon in 1835 and exhibited regularly until 1870, although he initially received little recognition for his landscapes and genre scenes that addressed social issues and reflected his own impoverished existence. Cals married a young aristocrat, Ernance de Provisy, who eventually went insane. He then raised their daughter, who suffered the same fate as her mother.
In 1848 Cals met the art dealer "le Père Martin" who steadily supported him and other painters, such as Millet and Corot. Another meeting that proved crucial to Cals was one with Count Doria in 1858, who became his most important patron. After several rejections of his work at the Salon, Cals participated in the Salon des Refusés in 1863.
Cals, who had lived and worked mainly in and around Paris all his life, then left the city for Normandy (Honfleur and the Saint Siméon farm) in 1871 and remained there until his death. He was a close friend of Jongkind, and in 1873 the two were together in Honfleur, where many other like-minded artists such as Boudin gathered to study out of doors. In 1874 Cals participated in the first Impressionist exhibition and continued to do so until 1879. His style evolved accordingly, and he applied a much freer brush stroke in his later work.