A largely self-taught artist, Jean-Jacques de Boissieu toured extensively in Europe before settling in his native Lyons. On his travels, Boissieu developed a particular interest in landscape painting and spent as much time sketching outdoors as he did studying in museums. Boissieu was of fragile health and could not tolerate the strong odor of turpentine used in oil painting; instead he focused his energies on engravings and drawings in ink and wash.
A great admirer of Rembrandt van Rijn, Boissieu approached engraving with the idiosyncratic touch of the draftsman: Atmospheric and tonaleffects took precedence over sharp lines and absolute clarity. Boissieu's engraved landscapes are bathed in light and shadow and populated with the rural figures and architectural forms characteristic of Dutch landscape painting.
Boissieu achieved great commercial and critical success during his lifetime; artists and dignitaries passing through Lyons often visited his studio. With the wider distribution of his prints in the 1800s, Boissieu's reputation continued to grow and his work was an important model for printmakers across Europe including Félix Bracquemond, Félix Vallotton, and Adolph von Menzel.