(b. 1800, Paris, d. 1874, Paris)


Painter and printmaker, part of a French family of artists of Flemish origin, son of Jean-Joseph-François Tassaert, who worked mainly in Paris, and grandson of Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert, one of the leading portrait sculptors working in Berlin in the late 18th century.

As a child Octave worked with his brother Paul Tassaert (d. 1855), producing engravings, but he later turned to painting and from 1817 to 1825 studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, first under Alexis-François Girard (1787-1870) and then Guillaume Lethiere. In 1823 and 1824 he tried unsuccessfully to win the Prix de Rome, an early failure that greatly disheartened him. For much of his career, until 1849, he continued to work in the graphic arts, as well as painting, producing lithographs and drawings on various subjects: historical scenes from the First Empire, portraits, and mythological and genre scenes. He also produced illustrations for the Romantic novels of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas pere and François-René Chateaubriand.

Though he achieved moderate success at the Salon, it was the graphic work that provided his small income during this period. Later he achieved success as a genre painter, depicting the widespread poverty prevalent in 19th-century Paris.