Son of the well-known French painter and sculptor Charles Soulacroix, Frédéric developed a passion for painting at a very young age. Although he developed an artistic style of his own, he has often been confused with his father. Charles always signed C. or Ch. or Charles Soulacroix, while Frédéric’s signature is unmistakable: his works are always signed F. Soulacroix, generally in red. In addition, Frédéric mainly produced easel paintings, while his father Charles was originally a sculptor who later specialized in fresco painting; he had to abandon sculpture due to a painful eye infection resulting from marble dust. The confusion between father and son may however originate from their choice to follow a different career trajectory. While Paris enjoyed the reputation as the art capital of the world, attracting artists from all corners for training and for its prestigious exhibition venues, Charles, and later Frédéric, chose to call Italy their home. Charles for example, went to Italy to perfect his skills as early as 1850. He only returned to France for a short period of time to work on several frescoes for the Cathedral of Boulogne-sur-mer in 1863.
Frédéric was born in Rome in 1858 and remained in Italy to pursue his arts education; he entered the eminent Academia di belle arti of Florence in 1873 and the scuola di Pittura five years later. Away from the traditional French career path, Frédéric still enjoyed an enormous worldwide commercial success for his costume paintings depicting upper-class women in sumptuous interiors. His intention was to revive the elegance and luxury of the past by creating idealized pictures from the turn of the 18th century, a time when leisure and romance were at the forefront of daily life. His hyper-realistic renderings of the silk and satin of the dresses, the rich upholstered furniture and draperies crowned Soulacroix as a leader of the Italian “Silks and Satins School”.