Leon Lippert (1863-1947) emigrated to the U.S. from the tiny village of Sailauf, Germany, at the age of 17. He settled in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area in 1885, and began building on his natural childhood talent for drawing faces by enrolling at the renowned Art Academy of Cincinnati. He opened his first studio in 1889, became a 20-year student in Frank Duveneck’s Life Classes, and was active in the Cincinnati Art Club where he was elected a vice president, director, and eventually an honorary life member.
Lippert resided most of his adult life in Newport, Kentucky, married Wilhelmina Miller in 1890, and raised three children. The timing of his arrival on the Greater Cincinnati art scene proved fortuitous. First, a business venture into “pop” charcoal portraits brought sudden prosperity, and then his equally sudden career change into finer art brought a series of profitable portrait and church commissions. The combination enabled him to send all three children to private schools and reside in Newport’s “mansion district.”.
Versatile and prolific, Lippert’s full-time studio career produced a wealth of portraits, life studies, landscapes, still lifes, murals, church decorations, and commercial illustrations. His brush style ranges from academic realism to strong American Impressionism. A number of pupils apprenticed in his studio, among them Edward Reiss, John Kohl, Jake Wieland, Thomas Hennegan, Fred DeJaco, and Bert Buschle. Leon Lippert was literally at the center of early 20th century art life in Greater Cincinnati from 1889 until his death in 1947 at the age of 84.