Jean-Baptiste Faure was born in Moulins, where his father Louis Victor was a singer in the cathedral. His mother was Marie-Reine Joséphine Beaujany. His family moved to Paris when he was three; when he was seven his father died. Jean-Baptiste pursued a musical career as a baritone singer. He entered the Conservatoire in 1843, left when his voice broke and reentered in 1850 when his voice had recovered. His début at the Opéra-Comique was in October 1852 in Massé's "Galathée;" he obtained first prizes for singing and for opéra-comique that same year. In September 1861 Faure made his first appearance at the Opéra in "Pierre de Medicis" and remained there as principle baritone for seventeen years. In London he first appeared in 1860 at Covent Garden in "Pardon de Ploërmel," returning to London every season until 1864 and again in 1866. In 1870-1872 he sang successfully in Brussels, and in 1872 he was appointed inspector of the singing classes at the Conservatoire there. In 1859 Faure married a popular and successful actress of the Opéra-Comique, Constance-Caroline Lefèbvre [1828-1905], who left the stage for good shortly after the marriage. Their son Maurice [1862-1915] was a landscape painter. Faure began collecting French art when his career first became successful; he remained an amateur d'art for the remainder of his life, early collecting the Barbizon artists and later the Impressionists. Faure had a long standing friendship with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, whose gallery dealt in many of the Impressionists. The first sale of Faure's collection, including works by Millet, Troyon, Corot, Delacroix and others, was held in 1873, presumably based on Faure's desire to concentrate his collecting on the art of the "new school." Through Durand-Ruel Faure became familiar with the work of Manet, and began to purchase paintings by that artist in 1873. In 1876 Faure commissioned and posed for Manet's portrait of him in the role of Hamlet, which was shown, but poorly received, at the Salon of 1877. A second sale of Faure's collection was held in 1878, and was a dismal failure, due in part to a slump in art prices at that time.
Faure's relationship with Manet lasted through the artist's life; Faure was part of the organizational committee for the 1884 posthumous exhibition of the artist's work. By the mid-1880s Faure had turned part of his home on the Boulevard Haussmann into a gallery where the public might view his collection. In 1906 Faure exhibited his collection of Manets in London, Paris, Berlin, and Stuttgart; at this time he began to disperse the collection as well. Paintings that were unsold after the exhibitions were left on deposit with Durand-Ruel, and eventually sold. A few Manets remained in Faure's possession until his death, and were passed to his heirs. [Compiled from sources and references recorded on CMS]