He was born into a family with a long history in the legal profession. His father, President of the Court of Amiens, allowed him to study painting on the promise that he would also study law, which he did, eventually earning a doctorate.
His interest in art originated in 1865, when his parents built a summer cottage in the seaside village of Berck. This happened to be a favorite spot for the painter Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic. Encouraged by Lepic and his older brother Georges Tattegrain, who had become a sculptor, he entered the Académie Julian in 1877, where he studied under Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. In 1879, two of his works were presented at the Salon and he continued to exhibit regularly there until 1914.
He later established a studio in Berck and specialized in maritime-related paintings. One of his favorite spots was Authie Bay and he became associated with group of painters known as the "École de Wissant" that gathered at the home of Henri and Marie Duhem. He became a Knight in the Légion d'honneur in 1889 and received numerous public commissions, including works for the awards ceremonies at the Exposition Universelle (1900). Many of his works were published as postcards. He also did illustrations for works by Dumas and Rostand.
According to General Edmond Just Victor Boichut (1864-1941), in his memoirs, Tattegrain died "...la palette à la main..., au champ d’honneur, alors qu’il reconstituait, sous les obus, l’esquisse du beffroi d’Arras". (palette in hand...on the battlefield...under fire, while sketching the belfry in Arras).
- Benezit Dictionary of Artists
- (fr)La tribune de l'art, "Le legs Tattegrain au musée de Berck"
- Dossier @ the Base Léonore
- Place Tattegrain @ Linternaute.com
- Fernand Bertaux, "Francis Tattegrain", in Les Artistes Picards, éditions Chevalier, Paris, 1894.
- Gaston-Louis and Patrick Wintrebert, "Tattegrain", in Arras et l'art au XXe siècle, dictionnaire des peintres et sculpteurs, 1800-1914, Arras, 1987 OCLC 17460041
- Joseph Uzanne, "Francis Tattegrain", in Figures contemporaines, Album Mariani, vol.IV, Paris.
- F. Barre, "Francis Tattegrain peintre de la mer", in L'envol du pays de Somme, #28, March 1997.
- Claire Montaigne, Francis Tattegrain, exhibition catalog (2007) ISBN 978-2-9529926-0-2
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