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Parisian Rag Pickers

Jean-François Raffaëlli

European Art

On View: European Art Galleries, 5th floor
In nineteenth-century Paris, people who made a meager living collecting litter, scraps, and debris for salvage and resale were known as rag pickers. Here, Jean-François Raffaëlli depicts a man and woman holding their gathering sacks as they traverse a snow-covered landscape. In the mid-nineteenth century, when medieval Paris was transformed into a modern, commercial capital with wide boulevards and grand architecture, many such marginalized members of the urban lower classes were displaced from the city toward its expanding suburbs, as the bleak landscape in this painting suggests.

Though rag picking was understood as an honest occupation, the advent of widespread official sanitation programs during this time caused many to struggle to maintain the livelihoods they had once known.
MEDIUM Oil and oil crayon on board set into cradled panel
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1890
    DIMENSIONS Cradled Panel: 13 3/8 × 11 3/16 × 11/16 in. (34 × 28.4 cm) frame (Framed in microclimate): 22 1/8 × 20 1/8 × 4 1/4 in. (56.2 × 51.1 × 10.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Lower left: "J.F. RAFFAËLLI"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in European Art Galleries, 5th floor
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Henry C. Lawrence
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Jean-François Raffaëlli (French, 1850-1924). Parisian Rag Pickers, ca. 1890. Oil and oil crayon on board set into cradled panel, Cradled Panel: 13 3/8 × 11 3/16 × 11/16 in. (34 × 28.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Henry C. Lawrence, 10.88 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 10.88_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 10.88_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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