A student of the painter Jean François Millet (1814-1875) and a lithographer of scenes of daily life, costume, and erotica in the 1820s and 1830s, Vallou reportedly took up photography in the early 1840s. Because his early photographs have not been identified, it has been assumed that they depicted naked women, a subject for which it was to improper to acknowledge authorship. Between 1851 and 1855, Vallou made a series of small-scale paper photographs of female nudes that he marketed (and legally registered) as models for artists. Vallou's nudes have long been associated with those of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), who is known to have used photographs in his painting process. Though no absolute one-to-one correspondence can be pointed to, there are some striking similarities in pose, and the heavy, soporific quality of Vallou's models is very close to Courbet's concept of the nude.