Eventually earning a high rank amongst landscape painters of Southern California, Jean Mannheim's circular route to California started in Germany. Drafted into the national army, Mannheim chose to flee to France, where he put his bookbinding skills to use to support an early art education at the Ecole Delecluse and Academie Colarossi. He left Paris in the 1880s and landed in Chicago, where he set up a portrait studio and taught at the Decatur Art School. He would pursue his profession in London, teaching at Frank Brandwyn's academy, and then return to the States and Denver, as a teacher. Still, it would be his arrival in California in 1908 that would herald his best known success.
Plein-air sensibility just lent itself to the scenes Mannheim found in California. Starting from his home on the Arroyo Seco rim near Pasadena, he would adventure outward into the landscapes, finding subjects that at first held to his tighter detail and realistic coloration. At this time he founded the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Pasadena in 1913, and started his studio in Los Angeles. Soon his works evolved to encompass the softer tenants of Impressionism, and became more widely known and sought after. This success allowed him to continue his passion for teaching, alongside his memberships in the Laguna Beach Art Association and the Long Beach Art Association. He would paint for 30 more years, and continued to produce what are considered his best paintings.
Works by Jean Mannheim were exhibited in Paris and throughout America during his lifetime, and today are part of the collections of the Orange County Museum of Art, the Denver Museum of Art, the Long Beach Art Museum, and the Irvine Museum of Fine Art, Laguna Beach.