François Lanfant studied under Ary Scheffer. He went to Africa and took part in the Algerian campaign led by General Bugeaud and the duke of Aumale. After being discharged in 1842 he was employed as a draughtsman by the Swiss naturalist Agassiz and travelled from Naples to Mulhouse. Having set up a studio on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris, he took on Mlle Ségalas, the daughter of the surgeon to Napoleon III, as his student. He lived for a time in England, then in Barbizon. In 1868 he went to Rennes where he met Gustave Courbet, and the two of them went to Trouville. He travelled by boat to Le Havre where he met a former actress friend, and decided to settle finally there, selling his work to rich merchants.
He exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1843 and 1866, where he submitted amongst other works Romulus Attacks and Beats the Sabines in 1843, Public Gardens at the Time of Louis XV in 1845, Flower Girl in the Regency Period in 1846, and in 1847 Young Lord and Old Vagabond and Fiancée from the Village which earned him a gold medal. A retrospective of his work was held at the museum in Le Havre in 1926.
He essentially painted genre subjects involving children, for example, mischievous children in the home, at nursery school or on the streets, sometimes accompanied by animals. These works are small scenes in a style reminiscent of Louis Léopold Boilly. He is also responsible for a religious picture of St Barbara painted in Rennes in 1868. He also painted typical scenes of Paris and its artisans at work. These subjects proved so popular with art lovers, who bought them to decorate their homes, that he was often encouraged to paint them in pairs in order to complement the decor of a room. He produced coloured lithographs in the latter years of his career.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Rheims (MBA): Head of a Young Girl