Jacque’s early etchings of animals and peasants illustrate an interest in animal husbandry that became the focus of his work in the Forest of Fontainebleau. In 1849 Jacque and his friend Jean Francois Millet moved to the village of Barbizon where they felt they could more realistically portray nature. Millet had a great influence on Jacque’s art, and Jacque owned a large collection of Millet’s drawings. Millet tended to emphasize and aggrandize the laborer, the human presence in his landscapes, whereas Jacque focused on animals and their activity.
Born in Paris, Jacque began his training, not in painting, but in etching as an apprentice to a map engraver. In this area, Jacque was unsurpassed among his colleagues in the Barbizon School. After military service, he went to England where he worked as an engraver for La Charivari. Returning to France after two years abroad, he made his Salon debut in 1833 and regularly contributed to the Salon until 1870. Winning medals for both etching and painting, he was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 1867.