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François-Auguste Ravier | Romantic landscape painter

François-Auguste Ravier (1814 - 1895) was born in Lyons in 1814. His father, a confectioner, wanted him to pursue a career as a notary, and the young Ravier went off to Paris in 1832 to study law. His spare time was taken up with drawing and painting, and he has been said to have attended the studios of Jules Coignet (1798-1860) and Aligny (q.v.). But according to Nathalie Favier, an expert on this painter, it is possible that Ravier received advice from a number of artists without having pursued any traditional artistic training. In 1837-38 he painted in the Paris area, in the forest of Fontainebleau, and in the Dauphiné and the Bugey, a region to the east of Lyons. In Royat, in 1839, he met Corot (q.v.), whom he revered the most. Between 1840-1847, no doubt following Corot's advice, Ravier went on a number of lengthy trips to Italy to draw and paint in the Roman countryside.

Upon his return to Lyons, he worked in the surrounding countryside, and met with artists such as Daubigny (q.v.) and Corot. In 1853 Ravier purchased a house in Crémieu, his home for the next fourteen years. He began to perfect his method: drawing in the morning and painting outdoors later in the afternoon. Contrary to the usual procedure, his smaller studies painted at the site served as a reference point for his watercolors, elaborated with the greatest care in the peace and quiet of the studio. These watercolors were highly sought after by the first admirers of Ravier's work. 

When Crémieu became too popular, Ravier moved away. In 1867 he settled in Morestel, about twenty kilometers from Crémieu. It is there that he died, almost thirty years later. Ravier was a thinker and a religious man. It is not surprising that around 1855 Corot used him as a model for one of his canvases, in which he appears as a monk. Ravier described himself as a misanthrope; this is why he always lived on the sidelines and without the official honors. 

In addition, he exhibited little compared to his artist friends. Nevertheless, he exhibited watercolors and oils at Dussere's in Lyons starting in the 1870s, then watercolors only at the Salons of Paris, Lyons, Grenoble and Geneva in the mid-1880s. He participated in the Salon of Lyons in 1893 and in the Exposition Universelle of Lyons in 1894 as well.3 By placing the temperament of the artist at the core of creation, Ravier invented a technique that could have had an influence on Monticelli (q.v.) and van Gogh (q.v.). The latter may in fact have known Ravier's work through the intermediary of his brother Theo. Between 1883-1886 Theo was in charge of Ravier's late works with the dealer Boussod-Valadon. Ravier was one of the first painters to take an interest in photography. Around 1849-50, he was already experimenting with this new technique, probably out of a desire to go as far as possible in his explorations of the phenomenon of light.

Ravier ‹ravi̯é›, François-Auguste - Pittore (Lione 1814 - Morestel, Isère, 1894). A Parigi, interrotti gli studî per divenire notaio, si dedicò alla pittura e si formò, più che all'École des Beaux-Arts (1837-38), guardando a C. Corot, di cui fu amico, e lavorando en plein air nei dintorni di Parigi. Fu più volte in Italia (1840-42, 1843-45) e visse appartato a Crémieu e poi a Morestel. Dipinse esclusivamente paesaggi, discostandosi dalla tradizione della scuola di Barbizon per l'intensità cromatica e la resa degli effetti di luce e atmosfera che rivelano la sua attenzione per E. Delacroix e J. M. W. Turner (molti quadri e schizzi nei musei di Lione e Grenoble e, a Parigi, nel Musée d'Orsay). | ©Treccani, Enciclopedia Italiana.