Joseph Morris Raphael holds a high place in the California, American and French Schools of Impressionism. Born in the town of Jackson, California on June 2, 1869, Raphael became one of the most famous students of his esteemed teacher Arthur F. Mathews at the California School of Design. Later Raphael would continue his art studies in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and at the Academie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens. Early in his career he made the decision to settle in Europe in Uccle, Belgium where he and his wife established a home and raised their family.
For most of his career he remained a devoted follower of pure French Impressionism. He painted the countryside near his home in Uccle, Belgium and also ventured to Holland and France to paint. Just as Raphael's international reputation grew, his family grew as well to include four daughters and one son. His family frequently appeared in his figurative works, he created wonderful closeup studies of his children and frequently captured them in leisurely picnic settings. Other paintings featured local landscapes, and sometimes his charming cottage home with its vegetable and flower gardens which were perhaps a source for his still lifes of fruits, vegetables and flowers. He lived and worked in Europe for thirty-seven years always maintaining close ties with the San Francisco art community and his loyal art dealer and collector Albert M. Bender. In 1939 with the ominous clouds of World War Two approaching, he wisely chose to return to San Francisco where he lived and maintained a studio on Sutter Street until his death on December 11th, 1950.