Henri Lehmann

LEHMANN, Carl Ernst Rudolf Heinrich Salem, known as Henri (Kiel, 1814 - Paris, 1882) French painter born in Germany (naturalized in 1847)

Biography Annotated Bibliography Henri Lehmann on the net

Biography :

1. Henri Lehmann
Portrait of Marie d’Agoult, Salon of 1843
Oil on canvas - 93,5 x 73,5 cm
Paris, musée Carnavalet
Although in a different format, this portrait can be considered a pair to the Portrait of Liszt in the same museum

Prominent decorator, subtle portrait artist and first rate draughtsman, Henri Lehmann is one of the most unappreciated painters of the XIXth C. A student of Ingres, he suffered the same ostracism as the other artists of this atelier, the only exception being perhaps Chassériau with whom he shares many aspects.

Born in Germany, Henri Lehmann arrived in France in 1831 and joined Ingres’ workshop. He exhibited his work at the Salon starting in 1835 where he presented Departure of the Young Tobias (Hamburg, Kuntshalle), the first of a cycle of paintings that would continue until 1866. As a foreigner, he could not compete for the Prix de Rome and travelled to the Eternal City at his own expense in 1839. There he joined Ingres, his master and then director of the Académie de France, with whom he had a close working relationship : the muse behind the composer Cherubini in Ingres’ portrait from 1841-1842 (Paris, Louvre) is by his hand.

2. Henri Lehmann
Portrait of Madame Alphonse Karr, 1845
Oil on canvas - 66 x 50,5 cm
© Minneapolis, Institute of Art
In its obsessive frontality, this likeness of Clémentine Karr reproduces Louise d’Haussonville’s attitude in Ingres’ portrait of her of the same year.

Of a melancholy and dissatisfied nature, the painter became friend while in Rome with Liszt and Marie d’Agoult, the beginning of a long correspondence between them. Often found in reproductions, the image of Marie d’Agoult (Paris, Musée Carnavalet, ill. 1) represents only one facet of Lehman’s portraiture skills. In some paintings, he emphasizes the models’ features : with their immense eyes staring at the onlooker, the strange faces of Madame Alphonse Karr (Minneapolis, Art Institute, ill. 2) or of Princess Belgiojoso (present location unknown, ill. 3) form part of the legacy of the Ingres portrait style. One can see, in almost caricatural form, this intensity of expression in the depictions of Ophelia and Hamlet at the Salon of 1846 (present location unknown).

3. Henri Lehmann
Portrait of Princesse Belgiojoso
Oil on canvas - 160 x 120 cm (with the frame)
Present whereabouts unknown
One finds here the same expression as the one in the portrait of Madame Alphone Karr, in a striking layout, with the body in perfect profile, the face full-on.

Lehmann settled permanently in Paris in early 1842 and set out on an official career which brought him full honors. He worked on various decorating projects both religious (church of St. Merri, chapel of the Jeunes Aveugles) and secular (City Hall, Palais du Luxembourg, Palais de Justice). The first were to survive better than the second which were mostly destroyed by fire or during the Commune. Only the Salle du Trône in the Senate, not easily seen, remains intact.

At the Salon of 1855 (Exposition Universelle), Lehmann displayed a large number of paintings, no less than twenty-one. Elected a member of the Institut de France in 1864 and appointed professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1875, he died in Paris on March 30, 1882 at the age of sixty-eight.

4. Henri Lehmann
Saint Luke, study for the decoration of l’Institution des Jeunes Aveugles, bd des Invalides, Paris
Paris, private collection
Typical drawing for Lehmann’s research with the very marked play in contrasts resulting from the use of black chalk.

How should Henri Lehmann’s art be defined ? Just like Chassériau, he interprets Ingres’ artistic language into a measured Romanticism, a lover of line, he never disdains the resources of colour. Although open to the innovative currents of the first half of the XIXth C., he remains a classical painter who takes time in preparing his compositions by a series of drawings and sketches, and bases his work on an isolated study of the nude model. As a draughtsman, Lehmann uses all the techniques available but prefers black chalk, a bit oily, to execute expressive studies, with an easily recognizable stroke. (ill.4). Intransigent in his defense of tradition, he nonetheless counted among the students in his workshop Alphonse Osbert and, above all, Georges Seurat. The drawings by the latter, in their rigorous composition and the use of black colour reveal the rich influence by Lehmann.

Absent from the walls of the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay (his works are kept in the storerooms), the artist, despite an abundant bibliography and a beautiful exhibition twenty years ago at the Musée Carnavalet is still waiting to be rediscovered.

Annotated bibliography (in chronological order) :

Solange, Joubert, Une correspondance romantique : Madame d’Agoult, Liszt, Henri Lehmann, Paris, Flammarion, 1947. Annotated edition of the correspondence between Lehmann et Marie d’Agoult from June 1839 to October 1848, as well as the letters from Liszt to Lehmann for the same period. Long extracts were published by Marie-Madeleine Aubrun in her catalogues on Lehmann (see below).

Paris, 1978, Galerie Pierre Gaubert, exhibition : Henri Lehmann, 1814-1882, Quelques aspects du grand dessinateur, catalogue by Marie-Madeleine Aubrun. Exhibition of 58 works, mainly drawings, some of which were up for sale. Chronology and bibliography, as well as an introduction on Lehmann as a draughtsman.

Jacques Foucart, “Dessins d’Henri Lehmann (1814-1888 [1])”, La donation Baderou au musée de Rouen, Etudes de la Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France 1, Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1980, p. 172-179. Catalogue raisonné of 41 drawings donated by Henri Baderou to the museum in Rouen (other drawings, donated later, are not studied).

Jacques Foucart and Louis-Antoine Prat, “Quelques œuvres inédites d’Henri Lehmann (1841-1882) au Louvre et au Musée d’Orsay”, Revue du Louvre, I, 1983, p. 16-24. By studying the drawings and paintings held at the Louvre, the authors propose a stylistic approach to Henri Lehmann’s art.

Paris, 1983, Galerie De Bayser, exhibition : Henri Lehmann, catalogue. The gallery exhibited a group of drawings for sale that were taken from an imaginary album put together by the artist himself. 53 reproduced drawings.

Paris, 1983, Musée Carnavalet, exhibition : Henri Lehmann, catalogue by Marie-Madeleine Aubrun. The exhibition presented almost 250 works (drawings and paintings). The catalogue includes a very detailed chronology offering numerous extracts from the artist’s correspondence, as well as a short essay which attempts to place him in his period. It remains the most accessible work on Lehmann.

Hans Naef, “Ingres und der Maler Henri Lehmann”, Literatur und Kunst, n° 4584 (122), October 29, 1967 The specialist on Ingres studies the relationship between him and Henri Lehmann (work not consulted).

Marie-Madeleine Aubrun, Henri Lehmann (1814-1882), Paris, 1984. Catalogue raisonné of Lehmann’s paintings and drawings, unfortunately in a limited edition of 300 copies. The chronology and introductory essay are practically identical as to those found in the catalogue for the exposition at the musée Carnavalet.

Bruno Foucart, Le renouveau de la peinture religieuse en France (1800-1860), Paris, Arthéna Indispensable compendium for anyone interested in religious painting of the XIXth C.. The section devoted to Lehmann (p. 219-221) restores his place in the debates which stirred painting circles at the time

Rennes, 1987, Musée des Beaux-Arts, exhibition : Première idée, catalogue by Patrick Ramade.. The exhibition, devoted to preliminary studies of works in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, examines the inception of The Virgin at the Foot of the Cross (the museum has another version) by studying various preparatory drawings and sketches.

Eugène Emmanuel Amaury-Duval, L’atelier d’Ingres, edition by Daniel Ternois, Paris, Arthéna, 1993 Besides several references to Lehmann found in Amaury-Duval’s text, Daniel Ternois has added biographical notes to this edition. Lehmann’s can be found on p.123-124.

Nantes, 1995, Musée des Beaux-Arts, exhibition : Les années romantiques, la peinture française de 1815 à 1840, catalogue under the supervision of Isabelle Julia et Jean Lacambre (Biography of Lehmann by I. Julia, notes by I. Julia and Georges Brunel). Three works by Lehmann were displayed and are studied in the catalogue : Portrait of Franz Liszt, Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to her Tomb and The Virgin at the Foot of the Cross.

Juan Manuel Magarinos, “Unos dibujos de Henri Lehmann en la Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid”, Archivo espanol de arte, n°271, Madrid, 1995. Publication of 23 unknown drawings by Lehmann that are preliminary studies for various décors in Paris (City Hall, Senate and Institut des Jeunes Aveugles). The drawings, with unknown provenance, are all reproduced.

Lynne Ambrosini, “From avant-garde to arrière-garde : new documentation on two paintings by Henri Lehmann”, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, January 2000, p. 47-60. Study of two paintings by Lehmann belonging to the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Portrait of Madame Alphonse Karr and Calypso (1869). Critical reception of these works is looked at, emphasizing the ambiguous positon of the artist caught between tradition and modernism.

Montauban and Besançon, 1999 and 2000, Musée Ingres (Montauban) and Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie (Besançon), exhibition : Les éleves d’Ingres, catalogue by Georges Vigne. More than just a catalogue of the exhibition, the work is a veritable dictionary of Ingres’ students. Henri Lehmann of course occupies an important place. Just like for all the entries in this work, besides an excellent biographical article, there is also a list of the works sent to the different Salons, both in Paris and in the French provinces, along with their present locations ; also listed,all of the décors as well as the paintings preserved in French churches and museums. Two paintings were displayed : a preliminary study for the Senate (Moulins, musée Anne-de-Beaujeu) and Rest, Roman countryside (Lille, musée des Beaux-Arts).

Paris, 2001, Musée de la Vie Romantique, exhibition : Dessins romantiques français, catalogue, by Louis-Antoine Prat. The exhibition presented two drawings by Henri Lehmann from Parisian private collections. One, from the Prat collection, had been displayed with it at the Louvre in 1995 (Bust of a Woman). The other one represents The Shepherds in Arcadia.

Rome, 2003, Villa Médicis, exhibition : Maestà di Roma. D’Ingres à Degas. Les artistes français à Rome, catalogue under the guidance of Olivier Bonfait. Two paintings by Lehmann were displayed : the Portrait of Liszt from the Musée Carnavalet, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to her Tomb, from Montpellier. The artist’s biography and the entry on Liszt’s portrait are by Christophe Leribault, the notes on the painting from Montpellier are by Stéphane Guégan. The documentation offices of the paintings department at the Louvre owns an important Lehmann file, to which were added the archives belonging to Marie-Madeleine Aubrun, specialist of the artist and who died a few years ago.

Francisco Ollero Lobato and Rosa Carmen Ferrer Albeda, “Dos retratos de Henri Lehmann en Sevilla”, Goya, n° 94, 2003, p. 163-166. Two unknown portraits by Lehmann are published here, preserved in a private Spanish collection, ;they date from 1832 when the artist was only eighteen. The models are two brothers, Edouard and Victor Mercier. The second, a sculptor, was a student of Pradier.

Henri Lehmann on the Net

Angers, musée des Beaux-Arts  : The Prophet Jeremy , painting (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Baltimore, Museum of Art  : Study of Draped Figures, drawing

Beauvais, musée départemental de l’Oise  : Tobias and the Angel, painting (on database RMN)

Bayonne, musée Bonnat  : Portrait of an Italian Peasant Woman, painting (on database RMN) Portrait of an Italian Peasant, painting (on database RMN)

Chantilly, musée Condé  : Portrait of Mme Henri Lehmann, painting (on database Joconde)

Compiègne, musée national du Château  : Portrait of the Count Emilien de Nieuwerkerke painting (on database Joconde)

Detroit, Institute of Arts  : Portrait of Jean-Louis Gabriel, Rector of Saint-Merri, painting

Dijon, musée Magnin  : The Pain, painting (on database Joconde) Vénus and Love, painting (on database Joconde)

Düsseldorf, museum des Heine Institut  : Portrait of Heinrich Heine, drawing

Gap, musée départemental des Hautes-Alpes  : Grief of the Oceanides at the Foot of the Rock where Prometheus Is Chained, oil on canvas, 251 x 193, signed and dated on lower right-hand side, 1850 : set in a very theatrical layout, the main theme of the Grief of the Water Nymphs is the female nude. Lehmann was not always an austere artist and, under cover of a mythological subject, painted numerous ocean beauties, Calypso, Ariane, Venus Anadyomene... (on database RMN)

Grenoble, musée Stendhal  : Portrait of Stendhal, drawing (on the website L’histoire par l’image)

Los Angeles, Getty Museum  : At the Foot of the Cross, black chalk, heightened with white, graphite, wash, 42,8 x 29,2, signed and dated on lower left-hand side, 1847 : finely worked study (or replica ?) for the painting in the church of Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile in Paris. Unrestrained in its pathos, this work embodies the renewal, in its close focus and gripping image of the empty cross, one of the most frequent themes in European painting.

Mâcon, musée des Ursulines  : Portrait of Julie Galichon, painting (on database Joconde)

Minneapolis, Institute of Art  : Calypso, painting Portrait of Madame Alphonse Karr, painting Study of drapery, drawing

Montauban, Musée Ingres  : The Rest, painting

Montpellier, Musée Fabre  : Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to Her Tomb, painting (on the website Web Gallery of Art)

Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts  : The Education of Tobias, painting (on La Tribune de l’Art)

New York, Dahesh Museum  : The Adoration of the Kings, painting Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to Her Tomb, drawing

New York, Metropolitan Museum  : Study of a Female Nude, painting Portrait of Faustine Léo, painting (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Paris, Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne, Bibliothèque Victor Cousin  : Portrait of Victor Cousin, painting, photo by Gustave Le Gray (on the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Paris, private collection  : Old Woman Holding a Distaff, drawing (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Paris, Prat collection  : Bust of Woman Full-Face, Right Shoulder Forward, drawing (on the website of City Hall, Paris)

Paris, galerie Talabardon & Gautier Portrait of the Countess Eugène Huet de Froberville, painting (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Paris, City Hall (destroyed decoration)  : Ecoinçon, mural painting, photo by Gustave Le Gray (on the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Paris, musée Carnavalet  : Portrait of Frantz Liszt : a quintessential Romantic portrait by a student of Ingres, this work illustrates perfectly the limits of establishing categories in art history (on database RMN) Portrait of Marie d’Agoult, painting (on database RMN)

Félix Tournachon, Caricature of Henri Lehmann (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Paris, musée de la Musique  : Portrait of Charles Gounod, painting (on the website www.charles-gounod.com)

Paris, musée du Louvre  : The Water or The Source, painting (on the database RMN) Drawings by Henri Lehmann owned by the Graphic Arts Department (on the site of Department Inventory)

Paris, Sénat  : France Under the Reign of the Merovingian and the Carolingian Kings (on the website Insecula) France Under the Valois, the Capetian and the Bourbon Kings (on the website Insecula) Studies of Figures for the Décor in the Senate, dessin (on database RMN) Study of overview for one of the ’cul-de-four’ in the Senate, dessin (on database RMN)

Perpignan, Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud  : Portrait of Alexandre Oliva, painting (on La Tribune de l’Art)

Rennes, musée des Beaux-Arts  : Consolatrix Afflictorum, painting (on database Joconde)

San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums  : Modesto Brocos, Portrait of Henri Lehmann, engraving

Sevilla, private collection  : Portrait of Victor Mercier, painting (on the website of the art journal Goya)

Versailles, musée national du Château  : Charles VII, painting (on database Joconde) Hugues de Payens, painting (on database Joconde) Louis VIII, known as the Lion, painting (on database Joconde) Death of Robert le Fort at the Brissarthe battle, painting (on database Joconde) Philippe de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam painting (on database Joconde)

No whereabouts  : Selfportrait as a Dominican Playing the Organ, engraving (on La Tribune de l’Art)

This page about Henri Lehmann was first posted online in French, on La Tribune de l’Art, 2007, July 11.

Didier Rykner, lundi 3 septembre 2007


[1] This is a printing error, the artist having died in 1882.

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