(b. 1826, Paris, d. 1898, Paris)
French painter, whose main focus was the illustration of biblical and mythological figures. As a painter of literary ideas rather than visual images, he appealed to the imaginations of some Symbolist writers and artists, who saw him as a precursor to their movement.
He entered the studio of François Picot at the Paris Beaux-Arts in 1846. He was a friend of Théodore Chassériau, whom he frequented from 1850 until the latter's death in 1856. From 1857 to 1859 he travelled in Italy. He won considerable reputation at the 1864 Salon with his Oedipus and the Sphinx, one of his first symbolist paintings. His unfavourable critical reception in 1869 meant that he returned to the Salon only in 1876 with his Salome Dancing Before Herod, which was admired by many critics, notably Huysmans. He made many variations on the theme of Salome. Over his lifetime, he produced over 8.000 paintings, watercolours and drawings, many of which are on display in the Musée national Gustave-Moreau, Paris.
In 1884 succeeded Elie Delauney as a teacher at the Beaux-Arts. Matisse, Marquet, Camoin and Roualt were among his students and their works show his influence.