A painter of modest background, Jean-Baptiste Robie, was born in Brussels in November 1821. He was raised in poverty but was able to work and fund his artistic education at the Brussels Academy. Robie became known in the art world for his intricate portrayals of floral still lifes.
The Belgian painter began his path as a self-taught artist, but, with the support from his friend Theodore Fourmois, who was already a landscape artist, he joined the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. During this period, Robie studied under Balthazar-François Tasson.
By Robie’s early twenties, he was exhibiting his work in many art shows, including the Paris Salon and the Brussels Salon, which he participated in many occasions from 1843 to 1875. His paintings were often prized at the Salons.
In 1848, J. B. Robie was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Salon for his artwork and made a name for himself in the French art scene only after his 1863 exhibit. The Belgian painter also participated in the World’s Fair, which helped him solidify his reputation as an artist in Paris.
J. B. Robie began his career painting portraits, and would often sell portrayals of Napoleon Bonaparte to British customers. The painter was an extensive traveler, visiting many European countries like Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.
In 1861, Robie was made a knight by the Order of Leopold, as he was often honored and celebrated by his nation. By 1869, the artist was ranked as Officer and rose to Commander about twelve years later. The Legion d’Honneur also knighted Robie.
Like many other Orientalists of the time, Robie also adventured to find different cultures and landscapes in exotic locations like Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and India, where he stayed from 1880 to 1881.
The artist was deeply inspired by the use of color and the techniques of Neo-classical painters, especially Jacques Louis David. Other influences worth mentioning are the Dutch artists of the XVIIth century, like Ambrosius Bosschaert, the Elder.
Robie’s paintings can be found in multiple museums around the globe, including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum located in St. Louis, Missouri, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jean-Baptiste Robie passed away in his hometown on December 8, 1910.