A painter and sculptor, Charles Soulacroix entered the l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris on 22nd September 1845. Soulacroix studied with the Sculptors Augustus Alexandre Dumont (18011884), Professor at the l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1852, Etienne Jules Ramey (1796-1852) and with the German painter Peter Cornelius (1783-1867), Professor at the Academy in Munich who also worked in Paris.
It was as a painter that Soulacroix achieved success exhibiting at the Salon first in 1849. Soulacroix’s enormous popularity and commercial success was achieved in the field of historical genre, as a painter of 17th century cavaliers recreating the gallantry and honour of a bygone age and in the field of 18th century historical genre. It is in this latter category that Soulacroix reigned supreme. These paintings are set in the fashionable Salons of Paris at the time of the Empire. They depict beauties of the day reading, listening to a musical recital, taking tea or simply conversing. They are dressed in silks and satins at the height of fashion, hair coiffured, surrounded by elegant furniture of the period, silk hangings and candelabra. The period was viewed, with a degree of nostalgia, as a golden age of taste, refinement and wealth and Soulacroix was unsurpassed in his representations of the period.