Born into the bourgeoisie of the Second Empire, he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris and then at the Académie Jullian, where he was a pupil of Bougereau and Robert-Fleury. He then joined the tradition of academic painters, far removed from the Impressionists. In 1882, he began to exhibit at the Salon des Artistes français and his success was unfailing. In 1884, he made his first trip to Algeria. This country literally fascinated him. His paintings in bright and brilliant colours, the naked bodies of sensual young women, seduced an abundant clientele and earned him the recognition of his peers. In 1896, he was made Knight of the Legion of Honour. He converted to Islam.