Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat was a French painter, Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur and professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Bonnat's vivid portraits of contemporary celebrities are his most characteristic works, but his most important works are arguably his powerful religious paintings. He had friends and connections among the independent artists of his time as well, such as Edgar Degas, whom he met during his stay in Rome and who painted two portraits of Bonnat, and Édouard Manet, who shared his predilection for Spanish painting. He taught together with Pierre Puvis de Chavannes in the private atelier he ran before becoming professor at the École. He supported Auguste Rodin's candidacy for the Institut, and defended Gustave Courbet's submissions to the salon.