Orphaned eight or nine years old, Charles Gleyre was taken away by an uncle in Lyon and given to the industrial school. In the mid-1820s he arrived in Paris and several years of hard studied painting in the workshop of Ersan, and then almost ten years have left France. A few years Gleyre spent in Italy, where finally developed his talent by studying and copying the works of old masters, as well as writing sketches from life. In Italy Gleyre close, in particular, with Horace Vernet and Louis-Leopold Robert, and then went to Greece and further East, visiting Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. This journey closely acquainted with nature and folk life of these countries and has given him a rich store of material for subsequent paintings. Returning to Paris in 1834, Gleyre began intensive work, and his first picture which attracted attention to himself, appeared in 1840 ("the Vision of Saint John"). It was followed by "Evening" (1843) is a large — scale allegory, which received a silver medal at the Paris exposition and later known under the title "Lost illusions".
Soon Gleyre became famous and occupied a prominent place among the representatives of the romantic ideal directions in French painting. In his paintings, he reproduced the folk scene, types and costumes, visited countries; also wrote landscapes, mythological, historical and religious subjects, and occasionally portraits. His works continue to influence so thoroughly studied them, the Italian painters of the Renaissance; in their conception and writing little originality, but their drawing is correct and elegant, the flavor is pleasant, though not particularly vigorous, masterly letter without unnecessary panache. Strong expression of the feelings and passions he was less than gentle, graceful, poetic themes; portraits, felt his lack of life and energy.
Despite some success, Gleyre took little part in the future in competitive exhibitions. He was distinguished by exceptional demands on himself, worked on the paintings for a long time, but left in total, according to the posthumous catalogue 683 work — including sketches and drawings, among which, in particular, the portrait of Heine, used for engravings in the magazine "Revue des deux mondes" (April, 1852). Among the most significant works in the legacy of Glare — painting "an Earthly Paradise" (which raved Ippolit Ten), "Flood", "Odysseus and Nausicaa", "the Prodigal son", "Apost. John on the island Patmos" (1840); an allegorical composition "Evening" (1843, is in the Louvre Museum, in Paris); "the Poet, to which rush in dreaming the dreams of his youth", "the Apostles going forth to preach the gospel" (1845); "the Nymph Echo", "Dance of the bacchantes" (1849); "Hercules at the feet Omphalos" (1868, probably the best of all the works of the artist, is in Neuchatel Museum); "Pentheus, pursued by the maenads" and some other paintings on biblical and classical subjects.
Almost as as private painting, Gleyre was known as an educator, which Paul Delares in the mid-1840s gave his disciples. Especially respected as a fine mentor of young artists, some of which are now loud reputation. In the Studio, Glare at various times worked as Sisley, Renoir, Monet, Whistler and other great artists.