Hébert was born in Grenoble, son of a notary in Grenoble, and moved in 1835 to Paris to study law. He simultaneously took art lessons in the workshops of the sculptor David d'Angers (1788-1856), and also of the history painter Paul Delaroche (1797-1896), but even if he took art lessons he was mostly a selftaught artist. At the age of 22 years he achieved success with his painting Le cup en prison in the Paris Salon. The Académie des Beaux-Arts awarded him the Prix de Rome in 1839 for the biblical composition Joseph's cup in Benjamin's sack. The prize was a scholarship and a long study stay in the Villa Medici in Rome.