Hector Edward Philippe Caffieri, RBA RI ROI (1847-1931)
Though he is best known for his sensitive, atmospheric studies of fisherfolk – in ports that include his adopted home of Boulogne – Hector Caffieri was a wide-ranging painter of landscapes and genre scenes in the tradition of French academic naturalism. Hector Caffieri was born at 3 Portland Place, Cheltenham (near the currently existing North Place), the second of eight children of Hector St Cyr Caffieri (1817-1890), a Roman Catholic wine merchant of French descent, and his wife, Mary (née Clow) (1820-1888). When his parents died, in Boulogne, they were styling themselves ‘Caffieri de Beauvallon’. During his youth, the family lived at various addresses in Cheltenham, including 7 Painswick Lawn and 24 Montpelier Walk. He began to exhibit at the Society of British Artists in 1869, while living at the second address. (The society gained its royal charter in 1887.)
Following a brief period in the navy, Caffieri studied art in Paris under Gustave Boulanger and, at the Académie Julian, under Léon Bonnat and Jules Lefebvre. By 1873, he had settled in London and, by the following year, he had taken a studio at 8 Camden Studios, Camden Street.
From there, he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Society of British Artists, and he was elected a member of the latter in 1876. It is said that he was a correspondent during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.
While continuing to live in Camden Town through the early 1880s, Caffieri made a number of sketching trips in England and France. Painting grounds included Burnham Beeches and the Thames at Cookham – and also Boulogne-sur-Mer. His parents retired to Boulogne, and settled at 8 Rue de La Tour Notre Dame, which became for him a second home. As a result, the port and its life would inspire his most recognisable subject matter.
From 1887, Caffieri lived at 30 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury. Showing his work at an increasing number of venues in London and Paris, he was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1885 (retiring in 1920) and the Institute of Oil Painters in 1894. (The Institute of Oil Painters gained its royal charter in 1909.) He held solo shows at the Continental Gallery, in New Bond Street, in 1900 and 1902.
Caffieri settled permanently in Boulogne in 1897, and became an active member of the Société des Beaux-Arts et des Arts Décoratifs du Boulonnais. His later addresses include Sentier Poure, Route-de-Calais (in 1916, along with 29 Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill, London) and 85 Rue des Vieillards. He died in Boulogne on 26 December 1931.