Pierre Cécile Puvis de Chavannes was born on December 14, 1824 in Lyon, Rhône, France.
In 1844 he went to Paris, where he studied under Eugène Delacroix and Thomas Couture. It was not until a number of years later when the government of France acquired one of his works that he gained any sort of wide recognition. Although he studied with some of the romanticists, his work is seen as symbolist in nature and he is credited with influencing an entire generation. In turn, one of his proteges was Georges de Feure. In Montmartre, he had an affair with one of his models, Suzanne Valadon, who would become one of the leading female artists of the day.
He is noted for painting murals, several of which can be seen at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris and Poitiers, the Sorbonne, and the Paris Panthéon, as well as in the United States at the Boston, Massachusetts Public Library. His easel paintings can be found in many American and European galleries.
Pierre Puvis de Chavannes died on October 24, 1898.