Born April 20, 1850 in Paris. In 1868, he began attending the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, workshop of Jean-Léon Gérôme. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1870.
Rafaelli was friends with Edgar Degas. Thanks to the patronage of the latter, he took part in the Fifth (1880) and Sixth (1881) exhibitions of the Impressionists, becoming partly the cause of a split among the artists – the founders of the movement, since many criticized Raphaeli for superficially assimilated impressionist style.
The artist invented his own painting style, characterized by the use of highly diluted oil paint, which gave the effect of a watercolor painting. In the end, he refused to exhibit with the Impressionists and moved away from them.
In 1889, Rafaelli received a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. Since 1891 he began to exhibit at the National Society of Fine Arts and the Georges Petit Art Gallery.
In the last years of his life, Rafaelli concentrated on creating color engravings and became a fairly famous master.
Jean-Francois Raphaeli died on February 11, 1924 in Paris.