French painter, illustrator and etcher, born at Nantes. Studied from c.1856 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under Lamothe and H. Flandrin; became friendly with Whistler and Degas. Early influenced by Henri Leys and painted pictures of Faust and Marguerite. Later turned to scenes from contemporary life, especially of fashionable women, under the influence of Manet and Alfred Stevens. Took part in the defence of Paris and the Commune and was obliged to flee to London in 1871. Exhibited at the Royal Academy 1864 and 1872-81, and at the Grosvenor Gallery 1877-9. His paintings of the Thames were influenced by Whistler. Declined an invitation from Degas to participate in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. Returned to Paris in 1883, and had his first one-man exhibition that year at the Palais de l'Industrie there. Visited Palestine in 1886-7 and 1889 and devoted the rest of his life to illustrating the Bible, his illustrations being enormously successful. Died at Buillon, near Besançon.
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.718