The son of a well-known doctor, FJ Cazin (1788–1864), he was born at Samer, Pas-de-Calais. After studying in France, he went to England, where he was strongly influenced by the pre-Raphaelite movement. His chief earlier pictures have a religious interest, shown in such examples as The Flight into Egypt (1877), or Hagar and Ishmael (1880, Luxembourg); and afterwards his combination of luminous landscape with figure-subjects (Souvenir de fête, 1881; Journée faite, 1888) gave him a wide repute, and made him the leader of a new school of idealistic subject-painting in France.
In 1890, Theodore Child discussed a few of his paintings (including a series of five paintings depicting the story of Judith and Holofernes) in Harpers Magazine. He painted a scene from The Odyssey, Ulysses after the Shipwreck.