The "Ingres of landscape painting," as Théophile Gautier called him, started his career by making landscape drawings for a porcelain manufacturer.
With an aim to perfecting his technique, he worked in a series of studios, starting with Watelet and followed by J.-B. Regnault and Victor Bertin. From 1824 to 1827, he traveled to Italy where he became friendly with Corot; he would return to Italy several times. He settled in Paris and continued to take frequent trips (like Diaz, Millet, and Rousseau) to Fontainebleau, Barbizon, and the Normandy coast. In 1843, he also traveled to Greece to make drawings of the major sites for the École des Beaux-Arts; from there, he went on to Asia Minor.
He was essentially a landscape painter, but gradually moved away from his neoclassical training to concentrate more on lines, shapes, and landscape designs, at times renouncing details to move toward a more schematic style.