John La Farge Biography | Oil Painting
3-31-1835 New York, USA - 11-14-1910 Providence, USABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
John La Farge had wealthy French parents who raised him bilingually. His enthusiasm for art began during his studies at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland and Fordham University in New York. He was going to study law, but after his first visit to Paris, in 1856 at the age of twenty-one, he changed his mind. Fluent in French and stimulated by the Paris art scene and art museums, he decided to study art with Thomas Couture.
When he returned to America, John La Farge studied with the painter William Morris Hunt in Newport, Rhode Island. La Farge's earliest and landscapes, from his studies with Hunt, show marked originality in the handling of his color palette. John La Farge's did many mythological and religious oil paintings, including Virgil, in a Rhode Island forest he named "The Sacred Grove". During his life, La Farge maintained an art studio in Greenwich Village, which now is part of the site of the New School University.
He married in 1860 Margaret Mason Perry, Margaret's family and relatives included people who had been passengers on the Mayflower to Plymouth Colony.
In the 1870s, John La Farge began to do murals, which became popular for public buildings as well as churches. His first mural was done in Trinity Church, Boston, in 1873. Then followed his decorations in the Church of the Ascension and St. Paul's Chapel, New York.
John La Farge was also very creative with stained glass, and both he and Louis Comfort Tiffany, had similar patents on the manufacture and assembly of stained glass in the early 1880's, this ended up in a lawsuit, but it was later dropped as it became too expensive to defend it and other artists were now also beginning to do the glass work.
John La Farge made extensive travels in Asia and the South Pacific, which inspired his painting. He was a pioneer in the study of Japanese art, the influence of which is seen in his works. He visited Japan in 1886, and the South Sea islands especially Samoa, Fiji and Tahiti in 1890 and 1891, where he did much painting of the landscape and its people.
In 1892, John La Farge became a teacher with the School at Metropolitan Museum of Art, to provide vocational training to students in New York City. He learned several languages both ancient and modern and was savvy in literature and the art, he influenced many people with his refined personality and reflective conversations.
In St. Paul, for the Minnesota State Capitol in 1906 at age 71 he did four great half-moon stained glass windows representing the history of law.
Art Movement: Naturalism.
Artists Influencing John La Farge: Thomas Couture, William Morris Hunt.
He Traveled To France, Japan, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Ceylon.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.