Biography: French painter. He was one of the most important painters of the second half of the 19th century. In many of his early works, up to about 1870, he depicted dark, imaginary subjects in a violent, expressive manner. In the 1870s he came under the influence of Impressionism, particularly as practised by Camille Pissarro, and he participated in the First (1874) and Third (1877) Impressionist Exhibitions. Though he considered the study of nature essential to painting, he nevertheless opposed many aspects of the Impressionist aesthetic. He epitomized the reaction against it when he declared: ‘I wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums.’ Believing colour and form to be inseparable, he tried to emphasize structure and solidity in his work, features he thought neglected by Impressionism. For this reason he was a central figure in Post-impressionism. He rarely dated his works (and often did not sign them either), which makes it hard to ascertain the chronology of his oeuvre with any precision. Until the end of his life he received little public success and was repeatedly rejected by the Paris Salon. In his last years his work began to influence many younger artists, including both the Fauves and the Cubists, and he is therefore often seen as a precursor of 20th-century art.