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Gleyre was a self-taught painter who exhibited his talents at various exhibitions and sold many of his works for a substantial amount of money. His earliest works are the first of his career, but he cultivated a reputation as a talented and able teacher. His students included Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He became known for his mastery of the medium and his mastery of it.

After his return to France, Gleyre began to work in Italy, a country where he discovered Michelangelo. He also met fellow Swiss artist LA(c)opold Robert, a painter who had made a name for himself by creating a series of paintings depicting brigands and Roman countryside. The paintings by Robert were immensely popular at the time, but the gruesome subject matter and violent style of Gleyre's paintings prevented him from being accepted by the art world.

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