Couture, Thomas (1815-79). French historical and portrait painter, a pupil of Gros and Delaroche. He is chiefly remembered for his vast `orgy' picture The Romans of the Decadence (Musee d'Orsay, Paris), which was the sensation of the Salon of 1847. Like other `one-picture painters', his reputation has sunk with that of his big work, which now if often cited as the classic example of the worst type of bombastic academic painting, impeccable in every detail and totally false in overall effect. His more informal works, however, are often much livelier in conception and technique, as as a teacher he encouraged direct study from landscape.
Photographs by Carol Gerten-Jackson.
Manet was his best-known pupil, and others included Puvis de Chavannes and Fantin-Latour.