A founding member of the Associated Artists of San Diego, the first professional artists’ promotional organization in San Diego, Leslie Lee was an illustrator, painter and etcher and was especially known for his Indian portraits. In the context of the San Diego group, It is written that “he seems to have been publicity-shy, for of the members of the group, least is known about him.” (tfaoi)
Leslie Lee was born in Manchester, England to American parents and raised in Connecticut, where his ancestry was linked to Colonial founders.
He studied in New York City at the Art Students League with John Henry Twachtman and the National Academy of Design, and in Paris at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens. He did additional study in London and Munich, and his signature dark palette is linked to the Munich-School style he adopted in Germany.
In New York City Leslie Lee began his career in 1892 as an instructor at the School of Applied Design and as a newspaper cartoonist. However, he sought a milder climate and moved to San Diego in 1919. From there he traveled and painted in Central America, Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico.
Exhibition venues included Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City, the La Jolla Art Center and the 1935 California-Pacific International Expo.