Jean-Baptiste Chatigny was primarily a painter, but he also made prints and sculpted. He began his career as a student at the École des Beaux-Arts in his native Lyon, where he studied copperplate engraving. He then lived in Paris, where he worked for twelve years and became acquainted with artists who would influence his preference for religious and spiritual subjects. By 1862 Chatigny had returned to Lyon; four years later he had his public debut at the Salon in Lyon, submitting several paintings. After that he received many commissions for religious paintings in churches in Lyon and other French cities and continued to exhibit at the Salons in both Lyon and Paris until his death.
Chatigny's sculptural work consists primarily of portrait medallions and busts of his contemporaries. He often chose symbolic, mystical images that reflect his preoccupation with the Romantic themes of death, the struggle of the spirit, and the sublime.