Louis Fanelli Semah was a 19th century French painter and sculptor.


Born May 28, 1804 in Toulon, France, Semah was a pupil of Gros. Following his entry to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1825, he exhibited many paintings at the Salons in Paris and in the provinces between 1831 and 1853. He produced mainly religious works, portraits and some history paintings. He was awarded third class gold medal in 1844 for his Christ in the Garden of Olives. The painting was bought by the government at the end of the show.

Semah also created many paintings of churches (Cognac, Tarare, Lodève, Loudéac, Cadiz…).

It seems that he made a trip to Algeria around 1849 because he exhibited at the Salon of the same year a painting entitled: Café maure sur la route d'Hippone à Bône.

Critics had already, quite early in his career, praised his artistic qualities:

“Fanelli-Semah, whose great composition we have just admired, is among our young artists one of those whose future promises the most; his first attempts were successful, because he did not want to enter the career until he was sure he could walk with a firm step, that is to say, after to have matured his talent by laborious efforts of patient studies. He brought painting and sculpture together, and he also succeeded in these two arts." (Charivari of October 3, 1839)
Some critics even placed his work above that of Chassériau…: “Mr. Fanelli Semah has shown strong studies in Christ in the Garden of Olives. There is a different thought and elevation than in that of M. Chassériau." (Theatrical France of May 26, 1844)

The artist died in Paris in 1875.

Works by Louis Joseph Fanelli Semah