François Bonvin was born in Vaugirard, Paris, in 1817. Although largely self-taught, he received some training as a printer and later at the Gobelins and the Academie Suisse. He also had some contact with François Marius Granet, who Bonvin considered his master. His earliest paintings were still lifes, a subject for which he would be recognized by contemporary critics and collectors as a leader in reviving and developing this genre in the 19th century. Bonvin received official support throughout the Second Empire for the continued production of genre scenes, still lifes, portraits and even landscapes. In addition, commissions and purchases of his work established the artist as an important figure in the realist movement. In 1859, he held a studio exhibition of the works of young artists who has been rejected by the Salon, including Alphonse Legros, Henri Fantin-Latour, James McNeill Whistler and Theodule Ribot.