(b Breslau [now Wrocław, Poland], 15 Feb. 1808; d Karlsruhe, 5 June 1880).
German painter, the great-nephew of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. In 1826 he settled in Düsseldorf and he became one of the leading figures in the tradition of history painting associated with the city. He combined earnestly melodramatic poses with studiously correct historical detail, so that many of his pictures look like scenes from plays or pageants. His best-known works have subjects taken from the Hussite Rebellion of the 15th century (Hussite Sermon, 1836, Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf) and were identified with the spirit of rebellion against the political and religious repression of the day. Lessing also painted landscapes. In 1858 he became director of the gallery at Karlsruhe, and settled there permanently.