His father was a locksmith, who was also known for his skill as a carver and worked for Louis Fiolet, a notable manufacturer of earthenware tobacco pipes. He introduced his son to the art of metal engraving.
François began studying at the municipal school of design at an early age. In 1844, he entered the École des Beaux-arts and became a student of Léon Cogniet. He took third place in the competition for the Prix de Rome in 1850 for his painting "Zénobie sur les bords de l'Araxe" (Zenobia on the Banks of the Aras) then, the following year, was awarded first place for "Périclès au lit de mort de son fils" (Pericles at the Deathbed of his son).
Shortly after, he rebelled against the Academicism of the time, focusing more on designing and engraving. His illustrations for Faust were especially notable and were praised by Baudelaire. Later, he made the acquaintance of Victor Hugo and began a new career as an illustrator in 1867. He helped design illustrations for Hugo's Toilers of the Sea (engraved by Fortuné Méaulle) and a new edition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
He lost most of his clientele when he began to harshly criticize Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War, and sank into an oblivion from which he never fully recovered. Despite this, a street in Saint-Omer has been named after him.
La Légende des siècles
- Louis Noël, François Chifflart, Peintre et Graveur Français 1825-1901, Sa Vie - Son Œuvre (His life and work) Vandroth-Fauconnier, 1902 (with a catalog raisonné).
- Pierre Georgel, François Nicolas Chifflart 1825-1901 (exhibition catalog) Musée de l'hôtel Sandelin, 1972
- Valérie Sueur (ed.), François Chifflart, graveur et illustrateur (exhibition catalog) Musée d'Orsay, 1993 ISBN 2-7118-2920-0
- Didier Rykner, Des dessins de Chifflart acquis parle Musée de l'hôtel de Sandelin, in La Tribune de l'Art 25 January 2013. Online.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to François Chifflart.|
- ArtNet: More works by Chifflart
- "François- Nicolas Chifflart, illustrateur de Victor Hugo « un oeil, tout grand ouvert dans les ténèbres »" (An Eye Wide Open in the Darkness) @ Paris.fr