French, 1810-1880

Adolphe Felix Cals

Cals was born into a humble family but his parents tried to make sure that he could avoid having to perform any hard, manual labor. Because of the family's circumstances, Adolphe-Felix was sent to be apprenticed by a close friend of the family, an engraver named Anselin. But when Anselin died suddenly, Adolphe-Felix continued to learn the craft, first under the engraver, Ponce, then under Bosc. He then finally entered Cogniet's atelier at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. Cogniet tried to advise Cals to work in a 'popular' mode, but he refused, arguing that he was ready to take on the consequences of pursuing a personal style, although it would perhaps jeopardize his career. Cogniet stopped mentoring Cals after his disagreement. Cals then got married but the marriage didn't last. Cals did indeed have trouble with his career, selling canvases with the help of gallery-owner Martin as a way of making money. It wasn't until he reached fifty years old that his career improved. Martin introduced him to Count Doria who procured Cals a number of commissions. The count later invited him to live at his Chateau d'Orrouy which rid Cals of the materialistic troubles that had plagued him throughout his life. The last ten years of his life ended up being his most productive because of a circle of close friends and supporters he had gained throughout his time living between Paris and Honfleur. He was critically acclaimed at the 1846 Salon, although he received no formal award. He exhibited many pieces of art at the Salons of 1868, 1869 and 1870. Later on he took place in Impressionist exhibitions. His paintings of peasants, sailors and the poor betray a sensitivity which places him among Jean-Francois Millet and Josef Israels.

Museum Collections:
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Bowes Museum, Durham
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Harvard University Art Museums
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
Musée Magnin, Dijon
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

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