In 1844 he went to Paris, where he studied under Eugene Delacroix and Thomas Couture. It was not until a number of years later when the government of France acquired one of his works that he gained any sort of wide recognition. Although he studied with some of the romanticists, his work is seen as symbolist in nature and he is credited with influencing an entire generation.
He is noted for painting murals, several of which can be seen at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris and Poitiers, the Sorbonne, and the Paris Panthéon, as well as in the United States at the Boston, Massachusetts Public Library. His easel paintings can be found in many American and European galleries. Some of them are: