Born into a family of Flemish origin that had already included several generations of artists, (Nicolas-François) Octave Tassaert was first taught by his father, Jean-Joseph-François Tassaert (1765-ca. 1835), and then by his older brother, Paul (d. 1855), who were both printmakers and print dealers. In 1816 Octave apprenticed with the engraver Alexis-François Girard (1787-1870), then studied at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1817 through 1825, under Guillaume Guillon-Lethière (1760-1832). Yet, to his great disappointment Tassaert never succeeded in winning the Prix de Rome, nor the Legion of Honor later in his career. In the late 1820s and early 1830s, the artist painted history paintings and a few portraits, but in order to make ends meet, he worked for various publishers as an engraver and lithographer. His first success came when the duc d'Orléans purchased his canvas The Death of Correggio (Salon 1834, Hermitage, St. Petersburg). Tassaert's historical, religious, allegorical, and especially genre scenes of an often melodramatic character earned him such titles as "the poor man's Prud'hon," or "the attic Correggio."1 Although his works did not always meet with critical approval, during the 1850s he achieved some popular success with paintings depicting the lives of the poor: unhappy families, dying mothers, sick or abandoned children, and the like. While addressing social injustice, Tassaert attempted to strike the emotional chord of the viewer. Although his submission to the 1855 World Exhibition was well received by the critics, Tassaert became more and more withdrawn from the art world that he despised, and he no longer exhibited after the Salon of 1857. Although there were some collectors of his art, such as Alfred Bruyas and Alexandre Dumas fils, the artist sold all his remaining work to the dealer Père Martin in 1863 and ceased painting. Tassaert became an alcoholic and his health and eyesight deteriorated greatly. In 1865 he went for treatment to Montpellier where he stayed with Bruyas, but his recovery was short-lived after his return to Paris. Although he is said to have begun writing poetry, almost none of his literary output seems to have survived. Lacking any prospects for his situation to improve, Tassaert committed suicide in 1874, after which his reputation soon waned.