Son of a music teacher, Édouard Debat-Ponsan was born in Toulouse in 1847. A student of Alexandre Cabanel, he practiced history painting very early on, describing scenes of religious or mythological inspiration. At the age of 30, he traveled to Italy, and, in 1883, he went to Istanbul with Eugène Delacroix.
He then specialized in society portraits and scenes of rural life. He also practiced decorative painting, the masterpiece of which is probably a scene representing Molière and Goudoli in the courtyard of a Languedoc house which can be seen in the Municipal Council room at the Capitole de Toulouse.
Dreyfusard, Édouard Debat-Ponsan manifested his convictions by offering as a subscription to Émile Zola his allegorical painting which remains famous "The Truth emerging from the well". This militant position earned him strong enmities.
The realism he displays in the rural scenes painted with great sensitivity brings him closer to Rosa Bonheur or even Jules Bastien-Lepage.
Édouard Debat-Ponsan died in Paris in 1913. Through the marriage of his daughter, who married Doctor Robert Debré, he was the grandfather of Michel Debré, prime minister of Charles de Gaulle, and of Olivier Debré, painter abstract and the great-grandfather of Jean-Louis Debré, former president of the Constitutional Council and the National Assembly.
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the 19th century in France...