Henri Lehmann (German (active in Italy and France), 1814–1882)
Sketch for Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to Her Tomb, 1839
Graphite on wove paper (squared for transfer), 20 x 34 3/4 in.
Signed center right: Lehmann
Gift of DeCourcy E. McIntosh
This is a full compositional study for Saint Catherine of Alexandria Carried to Her Tomb (1839, Musée Fabre, Montpellier), which was one of Lehmann’s first religious subjects and earned him a first class medal at the Salon of 1840. Three angels lead the way carrying remnants of one of the spiked wheels upon which Catherine was martyred. Others carry her body to Mount Sinai across the sky, while another group sings and plays music. Emperor Maxentius—whom she refused to marry—ordered Catherine’s torture and beheading in the 4th century A.D. after her piety and erudition converted 50 of his greatest philosophers to Christianity.
Lehmann was strongly influenced by his teacher, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), whom he had followed to Rome in 1838. There he was also impressed by early Florentine painters and befriended members of the German Nazarene school. His list of honors includes three first-class medals at the Salons of 1840, 1848, and 1855. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1846 and taught at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1875 to 1881. Two of his well-known students were Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) and Georges Seurat (1859–1891), artists who eventually rejected his style.