After beginning his career as a decorator of porcelain at his father's factory, he studied under the landscapist Jean-Michel Diébolt (b.1779). In the early 1830s he also associated with, and was influenced by, Troyon and Louis Cabat (1812-93). Théodore Rousseau also became a close and influential friend.
In 1834 he visited England, admiring the work of Constable among others. Although one of the Barbizon school of landscape painters, he frequented the forest of Fontainebleau less than the other members, preferring to settle at L'Isle-Adam, a village north of Paris