Narcisse was made an orphan from a very young age and lost a leg following an accident at the age of 10. Even from such a traumatic start in life he debuted at the Salon in 1831, painting spiritual and atmospheric romantic themes. Beginning with allegorical themes more associated with 18th Century painting, he later painted Orientalist pictures. His meeting with Theodore Rousseau encouraged him to pursue landscape painting, at which he thrived, becoming one of the leading lights of the Barbizon movement. He was a strong influence on the young painters Renoir, Monet and Bazille. Unlucky as he had been as an infant, he died as a result of a snake bite at Menton. An important collection of his works are in the Musée d'Orsay and there are many others exhibited in the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Institute of Art in Chicago.