Jules Lion was a free black artist during the antebellum in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was one of the most distinguished black men of the area at that time.
Lion was born in Paris and emigrating to the United States around 1837. Very little is known about his early childhood. While living in Paris, he exhibited lithographs at the annual salons from 1831 to 1836.
After arriving in New Orleans, he was hired for a new portrait lithography shop by the New Orleans Bee. His brother who was a dentist soon followed him to New Orleans. The brothers invested in imported retail goods and city real estate, however, after the Panic of 1837, they were forced into lawsuits and endured great financial losses.
Jules Lion returned briefly to France where he encountered the revolutionary process which soon brought Lion to return back to New Orleans. By March 15, 1840, Lion had accumulated enough daguerreotypes( photographs made on a piece of silver or a piece of copper covered in silver) to mount an exhibition at the St. Charles Museum. As the first to exhibit daguerreotypes in New Orleans, Lion received widespread newspaper coverage. Two years later, he began taking portraits of individuals and families.
By 1843, the competition stiffens and the equipment to remain in business became too expensive. Lion returned to lithography work. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lion began to lithograph Confederate sheet music covers for New Orleans publishers, including subjects such as the Free Market and Jefferson Davis. Lion died on January 9, 1866.