Born in November of 1861, Jean Mannheim (1861-1945) grew up in Kreuznach, Germany. At age seventeen, he left home and began to journey throughout Germany making a living by binding books and painting portraits on the side. Shortly after being drafted into the German army, Mannheim defected and traveled to Paris to learn English and began his art studies.
From 1884-1908, Mannheim settled in the US, calling both Decatur, Illinois and Denver, Colorado home at times, while continuing to travel back to Paris for his art studies at respected Paris schools, including the Academie Julian. During this time he married Eunice Drennan and the couple had two daughters, who were often portrayed in his work over the years.
When the Mannheims returned to America in the fall of 1908 they settled in Pasadena, California on the banks of the Arroyo Seco. Mannheim immediately immersed himself in the Southern California art scene and became an active exhibitor over the next three decades and was a member of numerous organizations including the California Art Club and the Laguna Beach Art Association among others. He continued to teach and mentor the young artists of the day and with C. P. Townsley founded the Stickney Memorial Art School in Pasadena in 1914. During this period Mannheim’s portrait business flourished with clients including attorney John Mitchell, industrialist King Gillette, artist William Wendt, and naturalist John Burroughs among the most notable.
He also began painting impressionistic landscapes of the nearby Arroyo Seco and of the rugged scenery of the Monterey Peninsula during annual summer trips to the area. His work was exhibited and recognized with gold medals at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle and the 1916 Panama-California International Exposition in San Diego and he exhibited in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
During this period, he added a newer style of painting casual portraits in the outdoors to his portfolio. These paintings featured young female models and were widely acclaimed and extended the possibilities of the genre.
Throughout his career Mannheim took painting excursions which would extend to Colorado and Oregon, as well as the many favorite artist locales within Southern California including Morro Bay, Laguna Beach and Dana Point, the High Sierras, and the desert of the Coachella Valley. During this period he continued to exhibit frequently, often at the newly developed Pasadena art venues that included Carmelita Gardens and the Pasadena Art Institute.
Mannheim continued to prolifically paint throughout the 1930s depression era despite being in his seventies and the artist maintained an active exhibition schedule with his work seen at venues that included the California State Fairs, Stanford University, the Ebell and Friday Morning Clubs in Los Angeles, as well as local exhibits around Pasadena. In 1945, following a stroke, Mannheim’s health took a turn for the worse and he died at his home in Pasadena on September 7, 1945 at the age of eighty-three.