French painter and engraver of figures, landscape and still life. Born in Paris, son of a magistrate. Spent a year in the merchant service, then attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 1850-6 in the studio of Couture. Copied Titian and Velazquez in the Louvre, and travelled in Italy in 1853. His early work was strongly influenced by Spanish painting, especially Velazquez, Zurbarán and Goya. His 'Déjeuner sur l'Herbe' was rejected by the jury of the 1863 Salon and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés, causing a scandal; this notoriety was increased by 'Olympia' at the Salon of 1865. He was defended by Zola and admired by younger artists such as Fantin-Latour, Monet and Renoir. In 1867 organised the first one-man exhibition of his work in a pavilion outside the Paris International Exhibition. About 1874, under the influence of Monet and Berthe Morisot, began to paint out of doors and to use a higher-keyed palette; but though associated with the Impressionists, he never exhibited with them. His late works, from 1878, included a number of portrait studies in pastel. Died in Paris.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.475