One of the best-known portrait painters of his time, Carolus-Duran was born to a modest family in the industrial city of Lille. He began his art studies at age 11 and moved to Paris in 1853. He soon met the portraitist and genre painter Henri Fantin-Latour, who would become a close friend. Carolus-Duran was also an associate of Courbet, Manet, and other French realist painters in the 1860s. A portrait of his wife, admitted to the Paris Salon of 1869, launched his career as one of the preeminent portraitists of Paris. In 1872, he opened a studio in Paris and John Singer Sargant became his most famous pupil. By this time, he enjoyed great renown as a painter of artistic and literary luminaries, and of the fashionable women of Parisian society.