A 20th-century French realist and impressionist painter, especially known for marine subjects, Jean Rigaud was born in Bordeaux in 1912, just before the beginning of World War I. He also did other subjects including French village scenes and works reflecting his widespread travels including to Spain, Egypt and Morocco. For the French government, he was Official Marine Painter and in that capacity traveled to the United States on the ship, Jean Bart.
His early training was from his artist and art-teacher father, Pierre Gaston Rigaud, and he encouraged his son as well as other students to develop their own unique approach to painting. He then enrolled in the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts at the Atelier André Dewambez.
In 1925, Jean Rigaud began exhibiting at the Paris salons, and this entry began a prolific series of exhibition venues including 53 one-man exhibitions between 1938 and 1974. The Galerie Durand-Ruel featured his work in exhibitions every other year between 1956 and 1974, the last one being the gallery’s final exhibition. Among his prizes were the 1937 Gold Medal in Paris at The International Exhibition; the 1953 Prize of Maroco; and the 1956 “Painter of the French Navy” award.
Among the museums that collect his work are the National Museum in Paris, the Museé de Tours, Musée de Poitiers, and the Musée Strasbourg.
Shortly after the death of Jean Rigaud in 1999 at his home in Guyenne, France, a one-man retrospective of his work was sponsored by the Musée de la Marine at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.