John Lafarge (John Lafarge)

John Lafarge

Artist. Born in New York City to wealthy French parents and was raised bilingual. John Lafarge received his first artistic training at the age of six and learned to use watercolors while still in grammar school. At the age of 24, after studying law for a time, John went to Paris to study painting under Thomas Couture. John returned to the United States in 1859 and settled in Newport, Rhode Island to begin his career as an artist. There, John studied with American romantic artist William Morris Hunt. John’s earliest drawings and landscapes, from his studies in Newport, show marked originality, especially in the handling of color values. Many of his mythological and religious paintings, including Virgil, were executed in an area of Rhode Island known as “Paradise,” in a forest which La Farge called “The Sacred Grove” after Virgil. Between 1859 and 1870, he illustrated Tennyson’s Enoch Arden and Robert Browning’s Men and Women. An artist of broad cultural interests he was a pioneer in the study of Japanese art, the influence of which is seen in his work. In 1876 John was commissioned to design the interior of Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts. These murals and stained glass designs were greatly admired, leading to a number of important commissions for public buildings, including St. Thomas’s Church, New York  in 1878, the Church of the Ascension, New York in 1888, as well as private commissions for prominent patrons, Cornelius Vanderbilt. John also worked in watercolor, using this medium to develop sketches for his murals and stained glass compositions. Among his best known watercolor paintings are those made during his travels, particularly those during his visit to the South Seas in 1890 and 1891. John wrote eight books and numerous essays on art in order to establish a sound tradition of the fine arts in the United States. His books, Considerations on Painting in 1895, An Artist’s Letters from Japan in 1897, and The Higher Life in Art in 1908. John continued to produce art, mostly decorative stained glass and murals, write, and travel until his death at the age of 75. (bio by: Shock)  Family links:  Children:  Aimee T. LaFarge Heins (1854 – 1938)*  Oliver Hazard Perry LaFarge (1869 – 1936)*  John Frederick LaFarge (1880 – 1963)* *Calculated relationship

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  • March, 31, 1835
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • November, 11, 1910
  • USA
  • Providence, Rhode Island


  • Green-Wood Cemetery
  • Brooklyn, New York
  • USA

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