Jean Andre Castaigne, Untitled, (Men Dressing), Graphite on Paper
French artist Jean André Castaigne was an important figure during the Golden Age of Illustration, producing paintings and both book and magazine illustrations in France and America. His work influenced a generation of illustrators with its sense of realism and drama, vivid story-telling, and attention to accurate detail.
A master of composition and form, Castaigne was equally at ease drawing humans, animals, architecture and landscapes. As a youth, he read prodigiously and studied classic Greek, Latin, French, and German literature from books provided by his grandfather, the librarian of Angoulême. Castaigne expressed an early gift for art, sketching imaginary scenes inspired by these books.
At the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under Alexandre Cabanel and Jean-Léon Gérôme, Castaigne trained to become a painter in the Salon tradition. His paintings were first exhibited in America at the New Orleans Exhibition of 1884. The first of his many illustrations appeared in “The Century” magazine around 1891.
As the principal draftsman for French president Felix Faure, Jean André Castaigne was awarded the ribbon of the Legion of Honor. In 1901 he returned to America as an official representative of the Imprimerie Nationale to study American printing plants in various cities. Castaigne’s travels throughout the United States gave him an opportunity to create a series of illustrations reflecting America in the early twentieth century.