The pair of inseparable writer and artist brothers Edmond and Jules Goncourt came from a noble family. Edmond was born on May 26, 1822 in Nancy, and Jules on December 17, 1830 in Paris. Both graduated from high schools in Paris. Edmond studied law and worked for a few years as a ministry official. In 1849-50, he quit his job.
Following this, the brothers took longer trips; they processed their impressions from them in travel reports. In 1849, they traveled through Bourgogne, Dauphiné, Provence and Algeria.
In 1850 there was a trip to Switzerland and Belgium, and in 1855-56 their first trip to Italy. In addition, they acted as free-lance writers.
Beginning in 1851, they kept a common diary. Jules Goncourt began to work with an etching needle in 1859 and took lessons from Paul Gavarni (1804–66). He intended to illustrate "L’Art au XVIIIe siècle" himself, and soon etching became a life-long passion for him. In 1861-65, Jules Goncourt submitted the large etching "Thomas Vireloque" to the Salon, produced from a water color by Gavarni.
In total, his etchings numbered 86 pages, among them some from pastels by La Tour, from 18th-century drawings, and from Gavarni. Jules also created some original etchings, for example two pictures of his brother Edmond. Jules de Goncourt died in Paris on June 20, 1870. After the death of his brother, Edmond Goncourt continued the previously common diary on his own. It is a first-class cultural-historical document. Only ten etchings by Edmond are known. Among them is a picture of his brother Jules sitting in an armchair as well as a few pages from Jean Siméon Chardin (1699–1779), Gavarni, Pierre Paul Prud’hon (1758–1823) and others.
The Goncourt brothers also wrote numerous novels such as "Les hommes de lettres" (1860), "Renée Mauperin" (1864), "Manette Salomon" (1867) and "Geminie Lacerteux" (1864). With these works, they became the founders of a new literary school, naturalism.
Edmond Goncourt died in Paris on July 16, 1896.