Émile-René grew up in a richly cultural environment as his father René-Joseph was an art historian and editor of Gazette des Beaux-Arts and his uncle Louis Ménard was an artist and a mythologist. He spent his childhood in Barbizon, where he met artists such as Corot, Millet, and Théodore Rousseau, who came to see his father, and was influenced by their works. He studied painting under Academicians such as Bouguereau and Baudry and also attended the Académie Julian. From 1883, he exhibited at the Salon and from then on until 1923, he belonged to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In the 1890s, he also took part in the Munich Sezession and La Libre Esthétique in Brussels, affiliations which strengthend his symbolist tendency. His works were first based mostly on the Bible or ancient mythology, but he gradually began to do lyrical pastoral views and ancient ruins. His yearning for the antiquity sent him on many trips to Sicily, Greece, Palestine, Morocco, and Italy. Although the ancient-looking scenes with nude figures, which he often depicted, were influenced by Puvis de Chavannes, he also employed an Impressionist-like treatment of light.
（source：Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, p.170)