Jean Charles Cazin was born in Samer on May 25, 1841. Cazin’s early work reflected a realist tradition, his later paintings demonstrated an awareness of Impressionism. Mainly painting landscapes of northern France, Cazin committed to recording the changing effects of light and atmosphere. In 1863, Cazin was living in Paris and exhibited his first work at the Salon des Refusés.
Cazin enrolled at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin under instructor Horace Lecoq de Boisboudran. While at this school he became friends with Alphonse Legros, Théodule Ribot, Henri Fantin-Latour and Léon Lhermitte. Each of these artists adopted Boidbaudran’s method of developing paintings from memory as a way of heightening perceptions. During this time, Cazin also met his future wife, Marie Guillet, whom he married in 1868.
In 1866, Cazin was named a professor at l’Ecole d’Architecture and two years later he became a director of l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tours. He also became a curator at the museum in Tours. Making a trip to England in 1871, Cazin spent the majority of his time working at the South Kensington Museum. During the same year, he visited Italy and Holland as well.
Upon returning to France in 1875, Cazin began exhibiting in 1876. Cazin obtained a first class medal in 1880 as his reputation continued to grow. In 1882, he was honored as a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and later became an officer in 1889. Cazin continued to win accolades as he was awarded the golden medal in 1889 and the Grand Prix in 1900 at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Cazin was asked to complete the murals in the Panthéon in 1898, after Puvis de Chavannes was not able to finish it. Cazin, himself, barely survived completing the work. Cazin died in Lavandou in 1901. His paintings continue to hang in museums around the world, such as Berlin, Paris and Montreal to name a few.