Three views of an 1845 portrait by Jules Lion. The center panel shows the two subjects, who are believed to be a son (left) and father (right). The pair are elegantly dressed and the panel on the left of the header shows the subjects' hands clasped together with the son wearing a jeweled ring. The panel on the right shows a detail of the artist's signature. Images courtesy of Neal Auction Company

Well-known Jules Lion portrait to be added to THNOC holdings

December 2021 | New Orleans, LA — The Historic New Orleans Collection recently acquired an exceptional double portrait by noted Louisiana artist Jules Lion (1810–1866). Popularly known as Asher Moses Nathan and Son, the pastel dates to ca. 1845 and was acquired by sale at Neal Auction Company in New Orleans.

This work joins THNOC’s extensive collection of material related to and by Lion, an accomplished lithographer, portraitist, and photographer.

“For the better part of the last century, this painting has been held in a private collection, limiting the public’s ability to study it and understand the history it represents,” said Daniel Hammer, THNOC’s President and CEO. “Under THNOC’s stewardship, this portrait will remain in Louisiana and will be made available to the public to be studied and appreciated.”

Full view of ca. 1845 double portrait by Jules Lion featuring a son and father. The son (left) stands next to his father, who is seated. Both men are elegantly dressed and appear to be an in affectionate embrace. The son has a fashionable blue cravat around his neck and wears a ring with a red stone or jewel. The photograph of this portrait was provided by Neal Auction Company.

The double portrait, commonly known as Asher Moses Nathan and Son, was recently acquired by THNOC. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Company

Recent scholarship by Sara M. Picard has suggested that Lion, long believed to be a free person of color, may have been of French Jewish ancestry instead. Upon acquiring the work, THNOC will embark on a journey of research and discovery with the New Orleans African American Museum and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. Together, scholars from the three institutions will research the artist, the subjects of the painting, and the work’s meaning in Louisiana history.

“There is much to learn about the subjects and the creator of this work,” Hammer added. “I am incredibly excited to collaborate with Gia Hamilton and the NOAAM as well as with Kenneth Hoffman and the MSJE. By collaborating, we can be sure that many of New Orleans’s diverse communities find meaning and connection in this remarkable object.”

—Teresa Devlin
Communications Manager, THNOC