Alfred E´mile-Le´opold Stevens was born in Brussels on May 11, 1823 into a prominent artistic family. Stevens had two brothers, Joseph Edouard, who was an animal painter, and Arthur, who was an art critic and keeper of the painting gallery of Leopold II. His father's collection included several paintings by Delacroix. Stevens studied in Brussels with Francois-Joseph Navez fromm 1840-1844, and later in Paris in the studio of Camille Roqueplan. While in Paris, Stevens studied under Ingres at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. After returning to Brussels in 1849, he submitted four historical paintings to the Brussels Salon of 1851. In 1853 Stevens made his debut at the Pris solon with three realist paintings, one of which was purchased by the French State. However, by 1855 he had turned towards depicting genre scenes and discovered his forte in painting beautiful, elegantly attied women in fashionable interiors, engaged in reading, in performing their toilette or other activities. By the 1860's Stevens was extremely successful. Among his otable patrons was King Leopold I of Belgium. He had an interest in Japonisme, and his pictures frequently contained artifacts from the Far East, an area of collectiong in whech he pioneered. Stevens married Marie Blanc in 1858, and together the couple had four children.