Antoine Blanchard was an important 20th century French post-Impressionist painter. Records say that he was born Marcel Masson in France on November 15, 1910, although it is possible that he was born earlier. He was born the first of three children to a French carpenter and furniture maker in the Loire valley.
He grew up watching his father carve furniture, and hence developed his own taste for art.
Since he displayed a talent for painting his family sent him to study first at the nearby city of Blois at an art school there.
Later on he also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, and upon graduation he won the Prix de Ministre. Finally he also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris as well where he won the Prix de Rome.
However his artistic career was interrupted by World War II. Right before the war he was married, but directly afterwards he fought with the French army trying to stop the Nazis. However when the French were overrun, he eventually found himself returning to his life of art and to his family during the Nazi occupation. During this time he and his wife also had two daughters: Nicole and Eveline both of whom also eventually followed their father’s footsteps as artists in their own right.
Once World War II was over, he returned to the Loire Valley to help with his father’s furniture business, and he helped out until the later 1940’s.
After helping out his family business he returned to Paris to pursue his first love of painting. It was during this time that Marcel Masson adopted the name of Antoine Blanchard, a practice which was not uncommon with French artists at the time. Although many consider his style to be derived from and very similar to the artist Edouard Cortes, another post-Impressionist painter, he had a style which was uniquely his own “The City of Light” was a favorite subject of his works during his career.
In particular he is known for painting Parisian street scenes from the turn of the century. Instead of the modern Parisian streets of the 50’s, he fantasized the Paris in the time of the Le Belle de Epoch, “The Beautiful Era” at the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s.
The Notre Dame, l’Arc de Triomphe, la Madeleine, Cafe de la Paix, and other Parisian scenes and monuments were all subjects of his brush.
His work brings us back to a more relaxed and casual Paris at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries. Upon seeing his work, one can imagine strolling down streets of Paris, chatting with other passer-by’s and stopping by a cafe to have some cappuccino with a friend while horse drawn carriages and women with children went past. The style of his work is similar to the great masters yet also definitely his own as well. His brush stroke is small, and his subjects are a bit hazy. He is also known for painting pieces in a darker stroke than his contemporaries early on in his career.
However as he matured as an artist, he started to use a brighter palette of colors in his works. His scenes of Parisian buildings show a strong command of perspective. In addition to Cortes, he was also influenced by Loir, Baraud, and Laloue.
Commercially Antoine was very successful. He sold his works to dealers in France, the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. As he continued to paint, his works became more and more sought after as his style of work became more acclaimed and recognizable as his own.
While not as prolific as other artists of his time, Antoine devoted most of his entire life to his art. He continued painting his beloved Parisian street scenes until he passed away on August 10, 1988.
Antoine Blanchard is considered the last of the Ecole de Paris, “School of Paris” painters.