Frantz Charlet was born into an artistic family, his brother was the painter Emile Charlet and he was related to Emile Wauters, also an artist of some considerable note. He lived in the Molenstraat, Brussels and later in the Avenue Molière.
Frantz Charlet was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels from 1872 to 1873 and again from 1876 to 1881. His main teacher there was the renowned figurative painter, Jean Portaels. Fellow students at the time included a number that would go on to greatness including Eugène Broerman, François-Joseph Halkett, Théo Van Rysselberghe and Rodolphe Wytsman. Leaving the Aacdemy in 1881 he continued his studies in Paris with artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Jules Lefebre and Emile Carolus-Duran at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Charlet was an avid traveler. Along with Théo Van Rysselberghe, Constantin Meunier and Darío de Regoyos he made a study trip to Spain (1882 - Spring 1883). After a visit to the Prado in Madrid, they all moved to Seville, where they met Constantin Meunier, who was working on a copy of a Deposition. Alfred Cluysenaer joined the small group and together they traveled to Tangiers and then on to Morocco. Charlet, along with his fellow artists, left Africa in February 1883 and on his return to Belgium would mount a successful exhibition of his Spanish and North African paintings.
In the summer of 1883 he left again with Théo Van Rysselberghe, to Haarlem in the Netherlands in order to study the works of the Dutch Old Master, Frans Hals. Later he stayed at the artists' colony in Knokke, along with Van Rysselberghe and other artist friends such as Willy Schlobach, Willy Finch and Rodolphe Wytsman. In 1883 he along with Théo Van Rysselberghe and Willy Schlobach founded the influential art group known as ‘L’Essor’, which would eventually lead to the creation of ‘Les XX’ or The Twenty in the same year. By now Charlet was gaining an huge following and even came to the attention of James McNeill Whistler whom he visited in 1885 in Volendam, Holland. In 1906 he founded together with Fernand Khnopff, Henry Stacquet and Henri Cassiers the ‘Société Internationale de la Peinture à Eau’.
By this time Charlet was tiring of Belgium so in 1906 he moved to Paris. He felt that the French public would be more appreciative of his delicate Impressionist works and this proved to be. Through a series of extensive and highly popular exhibitions at the renowned Galerie Georges Petit in Paris his reputation was established. For the next 15 years he remained in France and worked on his paintings as well as submitting etchings as illustrations for popular art magazines of the day. Frantz Charlet died in France in 1928. Works by the artist can be seen in numerous private collections and publicly at the Belgian museums of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent and in France at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.