Portrait of Joris-Karl Huysmans
Pastel and oil on paper laid down on panel, ca. 1895
Pierre Fabius, Paris ; Private collection, France
An exceptional work and kept in private collection until now. It shows the writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, with his famous dark jacket, with tight collar, and his strict expression. The key element is certainly the large crucifix on the wall, with an olive branch. The crucifix was actually in his living-room at the 11 rue de Sèvres in Paris. The left red door appears like a large curtain on a stage. It is clearly une mise-en-scène. The present work is in reality the perfect illustration of the crucial role of Huysmans as a declared catholic critic and an extremely active promotor of l’art religieux, against la peinture d’histoire.
The relationship between Huysmans and Raffaëlli seems to have been close. Huysmans quotes several times the painter as being one of the major contemporary artists, and notably in his book L’Art moderne. In his career, Huysmans mainly supported two artists, Redon and Raffaëlli : “Au fond, je suis pour l’art du rêve autant que pour l’art de la réalité ; si j’ai lancé Raffaëlli en peinture, j’en ai fait autant pour son antipode, Odilon Redon”. Because Raffaëlli is also an acclaimed critic, in key newspapers like La Réforme, La Chronique illustrée, le Musée des deux mondes, La République des lettres, and La Revue indépendante. On the other hand, Raffaëlli the printmaker also illustrated a few Huysmans essai, nouvelles and receuil de textes with prints.
 Letter to Prins, March 1886, in J.-K. Huysmans, Lettre indédites à Arij Prins, Genève, Droz Editeur, 1977, p. 36