DESBOUTIN, Marcellin
(b. 1823, Cérilly, d. 1902, Nice)


French painter, printmaker, collector and writer. He was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family, his parent were Bartholomew Desboutin, a bodyguard of Louis XVIII, and Baroness Anne-Sophie de Rochefort-Dalie Farges. He showed an early talent for drawing but initially trained and registered as a lawyer, though he never practiced. In 1845 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, studying first under the sculptor Louis-Jules Etex (1810-1889) and from 1847-48 under Thomas Couture.

From 1849 to 1854 he traveled in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. From 1854 to 1870 he lived in Florence as a painter, engraver and poet. He was a generous host to many artists, including Degas and De Nittis. He exhibited at the first time at the Salon in 1868.

He was ruined by financial speculation, and spent several years in Geneva. In 1873 Desboutin settled in Paris, became acquainted with Manet and Degas, and exhibited at the Salon again. In 1876 he was a frequent costumer in the Café de la Nouvelle-Athenes, and set Degas as model for the Absinthe Drinkers. He took part in the Second Impressionist exhibition, although he painted exacting character studies and genre scenes in an almost Neo-Baroque style with dark colours and close attention to details.

He lived a Bohemian life without means with his wife and eight children. In his final years he lived in Nice. In 1900 he won the Grand Prize at the Paris World Fair.

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