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Biography of Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

French painter, etcher, and lithographer, Jean-Louis Forain was one of the most important artists of the early twentieth century, frequently compared to Rembrandt for his emotional power as an etcher.

Forain served in the now famous "Camouflage Corps", a company of artists in the army, where he distinguished himself as a front line artist. This experience combined with personal convictions inspired the political cartoons and social satires for which he is best known. His illustrations enlivened many publications, including Vie moderne, Cravache, Parisien, Figaro, and the New York Herald. In 1898 he founded the short-lived Psst periodical. Forain produced five posters during the war, all of them for charitable campaigns.

In 1876, Forain was a young member of an artistic group that frequently met at the Cafe de la Nouvelle Athenes at the Place Pigalle, Paris. Other members included such artists as Manet, Degas, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Monet and Cezanne. Cezanne showed great interest in Forain's early work and kept a number of the young artist's illustrations pinned to the wall of his studio. The most important friendship formed in this period of Forain's career, however, was with Edgar Degas. The two artists worked together on many occasions at this time, painting and drawing dancers, nudes and scenes from Parisian theaters and cafes.