French art critic, journalist, and fiction writer Théophile Gautier was born in 1811 and lived in Paris for most of his life. He attended the Collège Charlemagne, where he became friends with the poet Gérard de Nerval. Gautier was first interested in painting but turned to poetry and became an early proponent of Romanticism. With the publication of his first collection of poetry, Albertus (1832), and his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835), he shifted his allegiance from Romanticism to the burgeoning philosophy of l’art pour l’art, or “art for art’s sake.”

Art and travel influenced Gautier’s creative work and journalism. His collections of poems España (1845) and Voyage en Espagne (1845) were the result of travels to Spain. As an art critic, he covered the theater, visual arts, and salons for La Presse. An extremely influential and prolific journalist and critic, he was an early supporter of the work of the artists Ingres, Delacroix, and Goya. Travel to Greece led to his collection of poems Émaux et Camées (1852), in which he focused on artworks, following his ideas concerning transposition d’art—writing directly about art pieces.

Gautier joined Le Moniteur Universel in 1854 and became editor of L’Artiste in 1856. In 1868, he became librarian to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte.