Equally famous for his historical paintings as his teaching, Thomas Couture would influence many major figures in French art, and would challenge the Academic tradition throughout his career.
He had studied at the Ecole des Arts et Metiers (an industrial arts school) before enrolling at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts where he was a student of both Gros and Delaroche, and it is Gros who is frequently credited for Couture's coloring techniques. By 1840 Couture was exhibiting his historical and genre paintings at the Salon, and winning several medals throughout the years.
He rebelled against the establishment schools, such as the Ecole des Beaux Arts by opening his own studio. Here he would train Manet and Puvis de Chavannes among many others.
He received commissions from the French government during the 1840s, but his work received much critical commentary and he exited public life after that, returning to the small village of his birth and continuing to serve as a teacher and author.
His works are in the collections of many major museums, including the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Hermitage Museum in Russia.