Vlaho Bukovac rođen je u Cavtatu 4. srpnja 1855. godine. Već s 11 godina odlazi u New York te se nakon četverogodišnjeg boravka u tuđini vraća u Cavtat. Kako ne bi roditeljima bio na teret, petnaestogodišnji Bukovac odlučuje plovidbom zarađivati za život. Pomorski život ubrzo je okončan nesretnim padom u štivu broda. Upravo za vrijeme oporavka nastaju prvi slikarski radovi na zidovima rodne kuće u Cavtatu.
Godine 1873. s bratom Jozom odlazi u Peru, gdje zarađuje oslikavajući željezničke vagone. Međutim, već nakon godinu dana odlazi za boljim poslom u Kaliforniju. U San Franciscu započinje njegovo „amatersko“ bavljenje slikarstvom, a zatim i prve poduke iz slikanja. Po povratku u Cavtat 1877. godine pod utjecajem dubrovačkog pjesnika Meda Pucića odlazi u Pariz. Zahvaljujući maloj studiji Ruka primljen je na École des Beaux Arts, u već popunjenu klasu profesora Cabanela. U slikanju brzo napreduje te već 1878. godine prvi put izlaže na jednoj od najznačajnijih svjetskih izložbi – pariškom Salonu.
Još tijekom školovanja i života u Parizu često slika i boravi u Cavtatu, Cetinju, Korčuli, Splitu i Zadru.
Godine 1892. Vlaho Bukovac oženio se Jelicom Pitarević iz Dubrovnika s kojom će imati četvero djece, sina Aga i kćeri Ivanku, Jelicu i Mariju.
Dolaskom u Zagreb 1893. godine Bukovac postaje centralna figura i kreator hrvatske umjetničke scene, pokretač likovnih događaja te svojim utjecajem na cijelu generaciju mladih slikara sudjeluje u stvaranju temelja hrvatske moderne.
Nakon Zagreba i Beča, seli u Prag, gdje predaje kao izvanredni profesor na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti. Posljednjih dvadesetak godina života provodi u Pragu posvećujući se pedagoškom radu, a gotovo svako ljeto provodi u domovini. Posljednji put posjećuje Cavtat 1920. godine. Umire 23. travnja 1922. u Pragu. Ispraćen je uz najveće počasti i pokopan u svom rodnom Cavtatu.
Vlaho Bukovac was born in Cavtat on July 4, 1855. He spent his early childhood and youth far from the family home. At the age of eleven, he left for New York with his uncle Frane. After four years abroad, he returned to Cavtat. Not to burden his parents, fifteen-year-old Bukovac decided to earn for living as a seaman. His maritime career soon ended with an unfortunate accident - a fall into the ship's cargo area. It was during the recovery that he made the first paintings on the walls of his birthplace house in Cavtat.
In 1873, Vlaho went to Peru with his brother Jozo. He earned for living by decorating railroad cars with his paintings. However, after only a year he went for a better job in California. In San Francisco, he began his "amateur" painting career, and he took his first painting lessons. After returning to Cavtat in 1877, under the influence of Dubrovnik poet Medo Pucić, he went to Paris. Thanks to a small study titled „The Hand“, he was admitted to the École des Beaux Arts, in the already filled class of professor Cabanel. He made rapid progress in painting, and in 1878 he exhibited for the first time at one of the world's most prominent exhibitions - the Paris Salon.
Over time, Bukovac was recognized as an excellent portraitist. Even during his school years and later life in Paris, he often returned home and painted in Cavtat, Cetinje, Korcula, Split and Zadar.
In 1892, Vlaho Bukovac married young Jelica Pitarević from Dubrovnik and they had four children; a son Aga and daughters Ivanka, Jelica and Marija.
After arriving to Zagreb in 1893, Bukovac became a central figure and creator of the Croatian art scene. He initiated numerous art events and influenced a whole generation of young painters, thus setting the foundations of Croatian Modernism.
In 1898, just before the opening of the exhibition of the Croatian Salon, disappointed, Bukovac left Zagreb and retired to his native Cavtat.
In 1902 he went to Vienna, where in 1903 he had a large individual exhibition. During the stay in Vienna, Bukovac received an invitation from Prague to fill the vacant position of associate professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. He spent the last twenty years of his life in Prague, devoted to pedagogical work, while going almost every summer to his homeland. Bukovac visited Cavtat in 1920 for the last time. He died on April 23, 1922 in Prague. Bukovac was sent off with the greatest honors and buried in his native Cavtat.