Ludovic René Alleaume was born into an artistic family in Angers, in the Loire valley in western France; his father Auguste Symphorien Alleaume (1821–95) was a gifted watchmaker and his mother Rose Hodée (1827–1909) an artist. Ludovic studied art in Angers with the artist Eugène Brunclair, then joined the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was admitted to the workshops of Ernest Hébert and Luc-Olivier Merson.

Once established in Paris in 1883, he quickly gained a reputation as a portrait painter, working from his studio on the boulevard Saint-Germain; he also worked closely with his two brothers – Auguste, a stained glass artist, and Paul, an editor and engraver. Starting in the early 1890s he contributed regularly to several important artistic publications including La revue de Bretagne, La revue de l’Anjou and Le Monde.

The smoker, 1915

We know little about his personal life, beyond the fact that he never married or had children. He was a prolific artist, and as well as portraits and designs for glass and textiles he painted a number of atmospheric nudes who look very comfortable posing for him.