He was a student at the Royal Academy and desperately wanted to attend the French Academy in Rome. He competed for the art scholarship Prix de Rome five times, but failed to secure it each time.
His masterpiece painting 'The Death of Marat' depicted the assassination of his famous friend
He was born into a wealthy Parisian family and was raised by his uncles after his father died from injuries sustained during a duel. He died in the Netherlands after he was hit by a carriage.