The tradition of painting and sculpting is kept alive by being passed down from teacher to student.  
JHess Studios is part of a long lineage of academic training dating back to Jaques-Louis David.     

We are proud to be part of this tradition and are pleased to share it with those interested.

Jaques-Louis David (1748 - 1825)

The Death of Marat (1793), Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style and was, in his time, regarded as the leading painter in France, and arguably all of Western Europe. 

In the 1780's, his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from the Rococo style towards a classical austerity and severity. He was an active supporter of the French Revolution and was effectively a dictator of the arts under the French Republic. It was at this time that he developed his Empire style, notable for its use of warm Venetian colors.
David invested in the formation of young artist's in his own teaching studio for the Prix de Rome, and was devoted to the teaching of women as well as men. In his atelier program he placed drawing at the center as well as direct study from nature.

David had a large number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century, especially academic Salon painting.

To be one of David’s students was considered prestigious and earned his students a lifetime of reputation.

Click here to learn more about:   Jaques-Louis David

Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835)

Portrait of Madame Pasteur (1796), Musée du Louvre , Paris

Antoine-Jean Gros entered the studio of Jacques-Louis David in 1785 at the age of 14. He left France for Italy, disturbed by the development of the Revolution, in 1793.

After visiting Florence, and upon returning to Genoa, Gros met Joséphine de Beauharnais and later followed her to Milan where he was well received by her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte

In 1797 he was nominated by Bonaparte "inspecteur aux revues" on the commission charged to select the spoils which should enrich the Louvre. Gros was decorated and named “Baron” of the empire by Napoleon after the Salon of 1808.

The number of Gros’s pupils was very great, and was considerably augmented when in 1815 Jaques-Louis David left Paris and gave over his own classes to him.

Gros had the most profound effect on the rising generation of Romantic painters of all the artists who contributed to the Napoleonic myth. His elegant and dramatic historical paintings had a significant influence on Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.  

He was a professor at the École des Beaux Arts, and was later named “Chevalier” of the Order of Saint Michael.

Click here to learn more about:   Antoine-Jean Gros

Paul Delaroche (1797 - 1856)

Portrait of the Comte de Pourtalès (1846), Musée du Louvre, Paris


Hippolyte De La Roche, commonly known as Paul Delaroche, was trained by Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros and helped formed the core of a large group of Parisian historical painters with the aid of Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.

Delaroche’s subjects were painted with a firm, solid, smooth surface, which gave an appearance of the highest finish. His painstakingly realistic historical subjects, holding a course midway between the Classicists and the Romantics, made him one of the most successful academic artists of mid 19th century France. 

His long series of historical pictures had a great popular success, and the availability of engraved reproductions made his work familiar in thousands of homes.

Delaroche became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1832 and was made a member of the institute. In 1845, he was elected into the National Academy of Design in New York as an Honorary Academician.  

Upon seeing the examples of the Daguerreotype in 1839 (the first successful photographic process), Delaroche is often quoted as saying ‘from today, painting is dead’.


Click here to learn more about:   Paul Delaroche

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904)

Working in Marble (1890), Dahesh Museum of Art, New York

Jean-Léon Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. He went to Paris in 1840 at the age of 16 where he studied at the Académie Julian and worked under Paul Delaroche, whom he accompanied to Italy (1843-1844).

Gérôme started an independent atelier at his house in the Rue de Bruxelles between 1860 and 1862. He was appointed as one of the three professors at the École des Beaux-Arts and started with sixteen students, most who had come over from his own studio. He taught at the École for 27 years. Together with the lithographer (and some believe student) Charles Bargue, they developed a drawing course that became the standard throughout Europe. The Charles Bargue Drawing Course is still implemented in the curriculum of classical academies today.

Gérôme was elected a member of the Institut de France in 1865 and, already a knight in the Légion d’honneur, was promoted to an officer in 1867. In 1869, he was elected an honorary member of the British Royal Academy. The King of Prussia, Wilhelm I, awarded him the Grand Order of the Red Eagle Third Class. His fame had become such that he was invited to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. His students went on to become naturalists, impressionists, tonalists, symbolists and illustrators. Gérôme had a considerable influence on American art and is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period.

Click here to learn more about:   Jean-Léon Gérôme

William McGregor Paxton (1869 - 1941)

Tea Leaves (1909), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

William McGregor Paxton was an American Impressionist painter. At the age of 18 he won a scholarship to attend the Cowles Art School, where he began his art studies with Dennis Miller Bunker. Later he studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts and, on his return to Boston, with Joseph DeCamp at Cowles.

Paxton is best known as a portrait painter and taught at the Museum School from 1906 to 1913. He co-founded The Guild of Boston Artists with Edmund Tarbell and Frank Benson.

Identified with the Boston School, he is well known for his extraordinary attention to the effects of light and detail in flesh and fabric. The Boston School took a more painterly approach than their French teachers. They learned sight-size portraiture, the technique Jonh Singer Sargent studied in the ateliers of Carolus-Duran and Léon Bonnat.  

Inspired by the work of Johannes Vermeer, Paxton crafted his elaborate compositions with models in his studio depicting, most often, idealized young women in beautiful interiors. He gained fame for his portraits, especially those of Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, and was made a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1928.

Click here to learn more about:    William McGregor Paxton

R. H. Ives Gammell (1893 - 1981)

The Seamstress (1923), Private Collection

Robert Hale Ives Gammell was an American muralist, portrait painter, art teacher and writer on art.

In 1911, at the age of 18, he enrolled in the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where he studied under William Paxton, Edmund Tarbell and Joseph DeCamp. It was at the Museaum of Fine Arts School where he learned the Sight-Size technique from Paxton. Gammell later studied at the Académie Julian, and the Atelier Baschet in Paris.

In 1950 he founded Gammell Studios to ensure that the tradition of painting as he knew them would be preserved and perpetuated. Without Gammell, the technique of Sight-Size portraiture may well have been lost.

Gammell was one of the last American artists to receive a classical training in art and has a place in history of American Realism.

As a writer and teacher he embodied the values and teaching of the previous centuries as he had received them and passed them on to his students.

Gammell devoted his life to teaching and painting and as a result many of his students became fine painters, as well as teachers, who have continued his work of passing on the tradition to future generations.

Click here to learn more about:   R. H. Ives Gammell

Richard F. Lack (1928 - 2009)

The Concert (1961), Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts, Washington

Richard Lack is one of the most significant American realists of the second half of the 20th century as he sought to preserve and perpetuate the artistic tradition inherited as a member of the Boston School.

Lack studied under Gammell in the early 1950’s and as an artist and educator, his influence has been considerable. In 1967 Lack established Atelier Lack, which ran until 1992. Atelier Lack was a studio-school of fine art patterned after the ateliers of 19th century Paris and the teaching of the Boston impressionists.  By 1980 he had trained a significant group of young painters. 

He coined the expression “Classical Realism” that was first used in the title of a traveling exhibition of his work, and that of other artist within the artistic tradition represented by Gammell. In 1985 Atelier Lack began publishing the Classical Realism Quarterly, featuring articles written by Richard Lack and his students to educate and inform the public about traditional representational painting. In 1988 Lack and several associates founded The American Society of Classical Realism, a society organized to preserve and promote fine representational art. 

Lack had influenced thousands through his art, teaching and writing and his Atelier became a model for many small studio schools throughout the United States and abroad.

Click here to learn more about:   Richard Lack

Daniel Graves (b. 1949)

Hons (2001), Florence Academy of Art, Florence Italy

Charles Daniel Graves is one of the important links between the past and the present. He studied under Joseph Sheppard and Frank Russell at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Richard Lack, and Nerina Simi (the daughter of Filadelfo Simi, a Florentine painter in the Macchiaioli style, who had studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme). 

In 1975 at Atelier Lack he learned many of the academic traditions of the Boston School, which had been passed on by Gammell, and the Sight-Size method for drawing and painting which had been used by many portrait painters of the 19th century, including John Singer Sargent. Both Lack and Simi offered a connection to Gérôme that had many similarities in what they taught as well as quite a few differences.

He opened the Florence Academy of Art in 1991 with the aim to blend Lack’s teachings with those of others who greatly influenced him. The goal of the FAA is to teach the craft of working in the realist tradition similarly to how it was taught in the 19th century ateliers of Western Europe. Graves quotes, for the Florence Academy mission statement, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (19th century French Neoclassical Painter); “In a school of fine arts, it is one’s duty to teach only uncontested truths, or at least those that rest upon the finest examples accepted for centuries”.

The educational program at the Florence Academy of art has brought in hundreds of the top students from around the world, several of whom have subsequently founded their own ateliers.

Click here to learn more about:   Daniel Graves
Click here to learn more about:   The Florence Academy of Art

"When a painter has attained a high degree of competence in his art and refers to a former teacher as the man to whom he owes that competence, then, and then only, can we be sure that we have a teacher who can teach painting"
R. H. Ives Gammell, "Twilight of Painting" (1946)