Thomas Couture was a French painter born in 1815 in Senlis. He studied successively at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers and at the Beaux-Arts before continuing his training in the studios of two painters: Antoine Gros, one of the most important portraitists of the 19th century, and Paul Delaroche. He soon proved to be particularly gifted in the great tradition of history painting, even though he failed several times in the Prix de Rome competition. Couture became famous thanks to his major painting The Romans of Decadence, which he exhibited at the Paris Salon and was awarded a medal in 1847. This work, which shows a style typical of academicism enabled the artist to achieve great fame. He then formed his own studio where he trained young artists such as Edmond Eugène Valton, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Edouard Manet.