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Sat, 07.15.1809

Jules Lion, Photographer born

Jules Lion, La Catherale

La Cathedrale Jules Lion,
1842, Lithograph on paper

*The birth Jules Lion in circa 1809 is celebrated on this date.  He was a pioneering Black photographer.  

Lion was born in France of mixed heritage and listed as a free man of color (F M C) in the New Orleans City Directory. He introduced the daguerreotype photographic technic to New Orleans and established himself as an outstanding lithographer in the city.  His works were known for their fine lithographs.  

Lion’s story in New Orleans began in the late 1830’s as a lithographer, but around 1837, he was driven back to France for a year with the declining economy to sharpen his photography skills under the method of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre the originator of the Daguerrean method.  He returned to New Orleans and photographed the many majestic views of the city. After proving his level of work by photographing landmarks in New Orleans, the prize-winning photographer was in demand by notables such as President Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren for his work. The New Orleans Bee, a local bilingual newspaper also hired Lion to take pictures for their publication.

Both he and his brother found success in Louisiana. His brother, Achille, was a dentist and both used their money to invest in real estate and retail goods.  Lion’s work could be found in the prestigious St. Charles Museum. His success was inevitable in the city of New Orleans, but as the cost of equipment increased from growing competition, Lion extended his search of prominent subjects to the rest of Louisiana and its people. His path eventually led to a teaching career and a return to his work as a lithographer. During the American Civil War, Lion began lithographs of Confederate Sheet music covers. He did this until his death in January 1866. 

To Become a Photographer


Louisiana State Museum

Image: Louisiana State Museum

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