Jacque began his training, not in painting but in etching, as an apprentice to a map engraver. In this area, Jacque was unsurpassed among his colleagues in the Barbizon School. After military service, he went to England where he worked as an engraver for Charivari. Returning to France after two years abroad, he made his Salon debut in 1833 and regularly contributed until 1867. During the 1840s, he and his friend Millet moved to the village of Barbizon where they felt they could more realistically portray nature. He drew criticism from his fellow Barbizon painters for his interest in non-artistic activities, such as land speculation and poultry breeding (about which he wrote a book: Le poulailler, monographie des poules indigentes et exotiques, 1848), which kept him from fully devoting his life to art. However, even with his outside interests, Jacque continued to produce a great many works in the two mediums of painting and etching.