Alexandre Cabanel (b.1823-d.1889) was born in Montpellier, Herault. He painted historical, classical and religious subjects in the academic style. He was also well-known as a portrait painter.
He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the age of seventeen. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1844, won the Prix de Rome in 1845 and was consequently deemed as one of the finest academic painters of his time. Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute in 1863 and appointed professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the same year. The Birth of Venus (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) is one of the bestknown examples of 19th century academic painting. It was the hit of the official Salon of 1863 and was bought by the emperor Napoleon III, who gave Cabanel several prestigious commissions.
Cabanel won the Grande Medaille d'Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867, and 1878.