Troyon was born in Sèvres on the outskirts of Paris. He first learned to draw and paint from the porcelain painter Denis-Désiré Riocreux. Troyon’s first job was as a porcelain painter in the Sèvres factory. He experimented with landscape painting on the side and, in 1833, debuted at the Salon. Troyon studied 17th-century Dutch painting and developed a style that relied on representing nature simply and realistically.
In 1849, Troyon received the Legion of Honor. About this time, he also began painting animals almost exclusively. Troyon was prolific and left behind many large-scale paintings showing farm animals in the foreground against a low horizon with dramatic skies. The novelist Alexandre Dumas wrote of his work:
It is more than painting… the effect of the painting is striking, full of truth, energy, and life. [It is as though] you are opening your window [to look over] the countryside… (1865)
Troyon painted in Normandy in the late 1850s and died in Paris in 1865.