Joseph Raphael Biography

Joseph Morris Raphael (1869-1950) was born in Jackson, California. He was both a painter and etcher and although he spent much of his career in Europe his style of pure French Impressionism painting had a significant influence upon California Impressionism.

At a young age, Joseph Raphael demonstrated a gift for art by copying the works of such popular illustrators as Charles Dana Gibson. When he was eighteen, Joseph Raphael began 10 years of study at the School of Design in San Francisco under Arthur Mathews (1860-1945) and Douglas Tilden. He was active in the San Francisco area during the 1890s, first as a newspaper illustrator and later as a sign painter.

In 1902, Joseph Morris Raphael (also known as Joe Raphael) continued his art studies in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Academie Julian under Jean Paul Laurens (1838-1921). During this time in Paris he supported himself by working as an illustrator for several French magazines. The same year, Joseph Raphael discovered the artist's colony in the town of Laren and until 1911 he divided his time between Laren and Paris. In Laren his works were sombre, tonal genre scenes of the Hague School artists. Its merit was acknowledged in 1906 when Joseph Raphael received an honorable mention at the Paris Salon for The Feast of the Burgomaster. Also in 1906, his oil painting, The Town Crier, was purchased from a San Francisco Art Association exhibition and donated to the M. H. de Young Museum.

His early works were influenced by Dutch genre painting and in 1910 Joseph Raphael stayed in San Francisco for 8 months and exhibited his predominantly figural Dutch series at the San Francisco Art Association. Following his return to Laren in 1912, he married Johanna Jongkindt and they moved to a small cottage in Uccle, a suburb of Brussels. His proximity to the French Impressionists ultimately lightened his palette and the works he produced in Uccle were luminous renditions of his bountiful flower and vegetable garden. Painting with a light palette and broad divisionist strokes reflected his study in Paris and this vibrant style earned Joseph Raphael the silver medal at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition where he had displayed six of his canvases.

Joseph Raphael discovered etching and by 1913 his first prints began appearing at the California Association of Etchers. A war-induced shortage of art materials began around 1918 and this prompted Joseph Raphael to turn to other media. Joseph Raphael began to work in pen and ink, watercolor and woodcut, as supplies were more available.

In the 1920s and early 1930s, Joseph Morris Raphael had a loyal art dealer in San Francisco and he would send oil paintings, etchings, watercolor paintings and woodcuts for exhibition there. This continued his reputation in the Bay area despite his prolonged absence.

Joseph Raphael and his wife had four daughters and one son and his family frequently appeared as models in his figurative works. He created wonderful close-up studies of his children and frequently captured them in leisurely picnic settings or in his flower and vegetable gardens. The Depression years were difficult for the Raphael family and in 1934 financial difficulty forced them to move to Oegstgeest, a suburb of Leiden. There the artist also had space for a vegetable and flower garden which was by now a favorite subject matter for his paintings.

In 1939, Joseph Raphael visited San Francisco and he brought many paintings and prints that he had created during the 1930s. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II prevented his return to Europe and he was unable to see his wife before she died there in 1945. Joseph Raphael remained in San Francisco where he maintained a painting studio and continued his career with sunlit scenes of Northern California.

He is widely acclaimed for his original and vigorous outdoor scenes and he passed away on December 11, 1950.

Joseph Raphael Awards

1900 Gold Medal, Mark Hopkins Institute
1906 Honorable Mention, Paris Solon
1915 Silver Medal, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco
1915 Gold Medal, Panama-California Exposition, San Diego
1918 Gold Medal, San Francisco Art Association

Joseph Raphael Exhibitions

1896-1939 San Francisco Art Association
1904-1906 Paris Salon
1910 San Francisco Institution of Art
1913 Del Monte Art Gallery
1913 California Society of Etchers
1915 Panama-California Exposition, San Diego
1924 Oakland Art Gallery
1933 Oakland Art Gallery
1935, 39, 40, 51 San Francisco Museum of Art
1935 San Francisco Museum of Art Inaugural
1939 Golden Gate International Exposition
1941 Gump's, San Francisco
1960 California Historical Society
1980 Stanford University
Art Institute of Chicago
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Joseph Raphael Memberships

San Francisco Art Association
California Society of Etchers

Joseph Raphael biography portrait photo.