John LaFarge (American artist) 1835 - 1910
LaFarge was born in New York City to wealthy French parents and was raised bilingually. His interest in art began during his studies at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland and St. John's College (now Fordham University) in New York. He initially intended to study law, but this changed after his first visit to Paris, France in 1856. Stimulated by the arts in the city, he studied with Thomas Couture and became acquainted with notable literary people. LaFarge also studied with the painter William Morris Hunt in Newport, Rhode Island. LaFarge's earliest drawings and landscapes, from his studies in Newport, show marked originality, especially in the handling of color values. He was a pioneer in the study of Japanese art, the influence of which is seen in his work. During his life, LaFarge maintained a studio at 51 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, which now is part of the site of Eugene Lang College at the New School University. Between 1859 and 1870, he illustrated Tennyson's Enoch Arden and Robert Browning's Men and Women. In the 1870s, LaFarge began to do murals, which became popular for public buildings as well as churches.LaFarge made extensive travels in Asia and the South Pacific, which inspired his painting. He visited Japan in 1886, and the South Seas in 1890 and 1891, in particular spending time and absorbing the culture of Tahiti. La Farge experimented with color problems, especially in the medium of stained glass. He rivaled the beauty of medieval windows and added new resources by inventing opalescent glass and by his original methods of superimposing and welding his materials. He learned several languages (ancient and modern), and was erudite in literature and art; by his cultured personality and reflective conversation, he influenced many other people. Though naturally a questioner, he venerated the traditions of religious art, and preserved his Catholic faith.