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Lebreton began his career as professor of Rhetoric at the Collège de Tulle.
He was appointed administrator of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Interior during the French Revolution, at the time of the French Directory. Then, he took part in the 18 Brumaire coup, becoming member of the Revolutionary in the year VIII of the Revolution, a member of Institut de France in the year XI, and also a member of Légion d'honneur from the year XII.
Lebreton docked in Rio de Janeiro in 1816 and was assigned to lead the Missão Artística Francesa (French Artistic Mission). He died a few years after the arrival of the Missão in Brazil, before their projects to implement a systematic art education, which later resulted in Brazilian academic art, had been fully materialized.