Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant: He was born in Paris, June 10, 1845, studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was also a pupil of Cabanel. A journey to Morocco in 1872 strongly influenced his artistic development. Among his chief Oriental scenes are the "Last Rebels" and "Justice in the Harem," both in the Luxembourg Gallery, "Les Chérifas," and "Moroccan Prisoners" (Bordeaux). His large canvas, "The Entrance of Mahomet II into Constantinople" (Toulouse Museum), received a medal in 1876.
After 1880 he changed his manner, devoting himself to mural decorations and to portraits. His mural decorations are in cities of France; prominent examples are a great plafond in the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, entitled "Paris Convoking the World," his paintings in the New Sorbonne, representing "Literature," "The Sciences," and the "Academy of Paris," and the plafond of the New Opéra Comique. He was distinguished as a portrait painter, especially in England, where he was a favorite of the aristocracy. A good example of his portraiture is "Mons Fils André" (Luxembourg), which took the medal of honor at the Salon in 1896.
He painted Pope Leo XIII and Queen Alexandra of England (1901); Lord Savile and M. de Blowitz (1902). Constant was made a member of the Institute in 1893, and was a commander of the Legion of Honor. He visited the United States several times, and painted a number of portraits. The Metropolitan Museum of New York possesses a large mural decoration by Constant representing "Justinian in Council." Constant was a writer of repute, having contributed a number of studies on contemporary French painters.
Following trips to Spain and the Middle East in the 1870s, Benjamin Constant returned to Paris and succeeded his teacher Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1888, he took over from Boulanger at the Académie Julian, where many American and British painters went to study. At the same time Benjamin Constant started to abandon his brightly coloured orientalist pictures in favour of portraits, and had considerable success in the US and in England, where he painted the Queen. Latterly he also succumbed to the lure of decorating public buildings.