Born in 1884 in Bogorodsk, Russia, Jean Lebedeff left his country at the age of 22, embarking on a long journey to France. Settled in Paris in 1909, he was received at the School of Fine Arts and frequented Russian artists living in Paris. He follows the teaching of the master engraver Paul Bornet who introduces him to xylography and chooses against the current engravers of his time, wood engraving over and over with a Japanese knife. This allows him to immediately affirm his personal style recognizable among all.
« One of the most important wood engravers of the twentieth century. »
G. Dugnat et P. Sanchez, Dictionnaire des graveurs, illustrateurs et affichistes français et étrangers
In Montparnasse, he frequents many artists such as Picabia, Mayakovsky, Ravel, Pierre Mac Orlan, Éric Satie, Blaise Cendrars, Soutine, Modigliani and André Salmon, as well as Henri Matisse’s studio in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Friends with Pierre Kropotkin, Lébéde is close to the Russian libertarian movement during the years 1920-1930.
Lebedeff illustrated hundreds of works, including the famous Eglogues (Paris, 1942) and The Centaur. He participated in the work of his friend Paul Coban and also teaches him engraving, signing some works of their two names.