He was born at Nogent-sur-Seine. He studied law to please his family, and art to please himself, and finally adopted the latter, and placed himself under Toussaint. After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts, Dubois went to Rome. His first contributions to the Paris Salon (1860) were busts of The Countess de B. and A Child. For his first statues, St John the Baptist and Narcissus at the Bath (1863), he was awarded a medal of the second class. The statue of The Infant St John, which had been modelled in Florence in 1860, was exhibited in Paris in bronze, and was acquired by the Musée Luxembourg. A Florentine Singer of the Fifteenth Century, one of the most popular statuettes in Europe, was shown in 1865; The Virgin and Child appeared in the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867; The Birth of Eve was produced in 1873, and was followed by striking busts of Jean-Jacques Henner, Dr Parrot, Paul Baudry, Louis Pasteur, Charles Gounod and Bonnat, remarkable alike for life, vivacity, likeness, refinement and subtle handling.
The chief work of Paul Dubois was The Tomb of General Lamoricière in the Cathedral of Nantes, a brilliant masterpiece conceived in the Renaissance spirit, with allegorical figures and groups representing Warlike Courage, Charity, Faith and Meditation, as well as bas-reliefs and enrichments; the two first-named works were separately exhibited in the Salon of 1877. The medallions represent Wisdom, Hope, Justice, Force, Rhetoric, Prudence and Religion. The statue of the Constable Anne de Montmorency was executed for Chantilly, and that of Joan of Arc (1889) for the town of Rheims. The Italian influence which characterized the earlier work of Dubois disappeared as his own individuality became clearly asserted.
As a painter he restricted himself mainly to portraiture. My Children (1876) being probably his most noteworthy achievement.
His drawings and copies after the Old Masters are of peculiar
excellence: they include The Dead Christ (after Sebastian del
Piombo) and Adam and Eve (after Raphael). In 1873 Dubois was
appointed keeper of the Luxembourg Museum. He succeeded Guillaume
as director of the École des Beaux-Arts, 1878, and Perraud
as member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Twice at the
Salon he obtained the medal of honour (1865 and 1876), and
once at the Universal Exhibition (1878). He also won numerous
other distinctions, and was appointed grand cross of the Legion
of Honour. He was made a member of several European orders,
and in 1895 was elected an honorary foreign academician of
the Royal Academy of London. He died at Paris in 1905.