German born Henri Lehmann arrived in Paris in 1831 intent on pursuing a career as a painter, and it was here at the age of seventeen that he entered the studio of Jean Auguste-Dominque Ingres. Lehmann’s early training and future association and collaboration with Ingres became the most important influence on his art, and like Ingres, he became a passionate classicist and a successful Salon exhibitor, winning first-class medals.
Lehmann’s subject matter was diverse and carefully chosen from religion, mythology, history and literature. At the peak of his career, he received important commissions to decorate public buildings and churches, including the Hôtel de Ville, the Palais du Luxembourg, the Palais de Justice and the Church of Ste Clotilde in Paris. Lehmann was also a popular portrait painter, depicting well-known luminaries in the arts, such as Chopin, Franz Liszt and Stendhal.
As a follower of Ingres and therefore a staunch proponent of Academic orthodoxy, it is not surprising that Lehmann spent the last two decades of his life training the next generation of artists in traditional techniques. He became a teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1861 and Professor there in 1875, founding the Lehmann Prize recognizing academic excellence in art. Among his many students were Camille Pissarro and Georges Seurat.