(b. 1808, Lyon, d. 1860, Ecully)


French painter and designer. In his youth he attended the studio of François Lepage (1796-1871), a famous Lyonnais flower painter. Then he was a pupil of the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, where in 1826 he won a gold medal for flower painting in the class of Augustin-Alexandre Thierriat (1796-1871). He began his career as a designer for the textile firm of Didier Petit.

He first exhibited his flower pieces in 1827 and in the following decade established himself as one of the leading artists and teachers in Lyon, which was renowned for its flower painters. Although he worked mainly in Lyon, he enjoyed the patronage of wealthy collectors in Paris and abroad. Six of his flower and fruit pieces were exhibited in 1851 at the Great Exhibition in London and at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where he won a gold medal, nine of his paintings were shown. Lenders to the Paris exhibition included Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, the French state and the 4th Marquess of Hertford.

Jean-Pierre Lays (1825-87), Saint-Jean's servant and pupil, recorded that his master could take two days to paint a single rose. Drawings were, therefore, essential to his working method. Typically, he would submit a small pencil sketch for his client's approval, which would then be worked up into a small oil sketch, and finally an enlarged version.