Ernest-Ange Duez (1843-1896) was a painter and printmaker of flowers, landscapes, and figure studies – particularly allegorical and historical scenes. He served his apprenticeship with the painter Isidore-Alexandre-Augustin Pils, taking part in the conservative Paris Salon for the first time in 1868. Although he was an admirer of Édouard Manet and owned paintings by Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot, his own style has been described as juste milieu (happy medium), and is defined by an academic approach, a more controlled technique and a palette based in natural light. For this, he was rewarded with financial success, medals from the Salon, critical accolades, and prestigious public commissions.In 1879, Duez used his influence to help the Impressionists he admired by signing a petition requesting a reorganization of the Salon. His involvement and support of rival societies and salons helped hasten the demise of the once all-powerful Académie des Beaux-Arts Salon.In the early 1880s, in his studio on the Boulevard Berthier in Paris, Duez formed a lasting friendship with his next-door neighbor John Singer Sargent. Sargent’s impressionistic portrait of Duez, in a mood of deep concentration, set against a background of blue hydrangeas, was a gift to the artist. In return, Sargent owned a study of blue hydrangeas painted by Duez. The burgeoning field of plant science and the many public greenhouses in 19th century Paris allowed the study of exotic blooms all year long. The allure of Asian flora, art, and literature that compelled many 19th century European artists also united these two powerfully talented friends.Ernest-Ange Duez passed very suddenly in 1896, after suffering a brain hemorrhage while cycling in the Woods of Saint Germain.