Born in La Rochelle, Bouguereau attended high school in Pons and in 1842 entered the Municipal School of Drawing and Painting at Bordeaux. In 1846 he moved to Paris and was accepted into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Studies in Rome from 1850 to 1854 further reinforced the classical direction of his early training. Favorable critical attention to his works at the Salons of 1854 and 1855 and the Universal Exposition of 1855 brought a number of commissions and helped launch his career as one of the most famous and influential nineteenth-century academic painters. Bouguereau was appointed professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1875 and elected a member of the Institute of France and an Officer of the ;egion of Honor in 1876. Many other honors and commissions followed. In 1896 in his second marriage he wedded Elizabeth Jane Gardner, an American painter and longtime friend and pupil. He died in 1905 at his home in La Rochelle.