|Born in Cologne, Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury was sent by his family to Paris, and after travelling in Italy returned to France and made his first appearance at the Salon of 1824. His reputation, however, was not established until three years later, when he exhibited at the Convent of Saint Onophrius a painting of the 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso.
Endowed with a vigorous, original talent, and with a vivid imagination, especially for the tragic incidents of history, Robert-Fleury soon rose to fame, and in 1850 succeeded François Granet as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. In 1855 he was appointed professor and in 1863 director of the École des Beaux-Arts, and in the following year he went to Rome as director of the French Academy there.
Among his chief works are The Triumphal Entry of Clovis at Tours (1838), now in the Versailles Museum: Galileo before the Holy Office and Christopher Columbus received by the Spanish Court (1847), both in the Luxembourg Museum; and Charles V in the Monastery of Yustre (1857).
His son, Tony Robert-Fleury, was also a painter.
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