Sunday, May 20, 2007

Antoine Blanchard

Antoine Blanchard
Antoine Blanchard was not a major figure in French painting, and it might be easy to dismiss him as formulaic, but I think his appeal goes beyond the obvious superficial charms of his paintings and his work is most interesting for the elements that you don’t notice at first.

Blanchard’s paintings seem almost calculated for appeal in some ways. They are usually of Paris street scenes and very often include famous landmarks. They employ repetitive themes and similar composition. You can often find two, three or more versions of the same scene that at first glance look almost identical, but on closer inspection reveal themselves to be alternate versions. This is not an uncommon practice for artists (see my post on Gilbert Stuart), but in Blanchard’s case may be the result of a desire to paint a different time, as preserved in the relatively new technology of photography.

Blanchard’s Parisian avenues are thronged with pedestrians, parading past shop windows alight with bright yellows and oranges. His shop windows and lighted cafe fronts seem intended to stand out like jewels in sharp contrast to the blue-grays or muted siennas of his backgrounds. Though he employs short, painterly brush strokes and in some respects seems very influenced by the Impressionists, his brush handling is more graphic, with less intention for optical blending, and his use of light is decidedly different.

In marked contrast to the Impressionists’ pursuit of sunlight and its effects, Blanchard seeks out gray, overcast, rainy or snowy days. His gray skies and subdued backgrounds are a stage for the bright lights of his cafe, shop and streetcar windows. His repetition of these themes can again be seen as formulaic, but it isn’t the high chroma accents, meant to immediately attract the eye, that appeal to me in Blanchard’s paintings; it’s actually his backgrounds that I enjoy most.

His dark, overcast skies are painted with wonderful painterly suggestions of the shifting layers of rain clouds, at times dense and heavy with impending rain, at other times broken with hints of blue, indicating that the rain that turned the streets into shimmering mirrors has passed. His buildings, too, though obviously meant to play background to his brightly colored passages, are of more interest than his foreground subjects, with a marvelous economy of notation in which complex architecture is reduced to a few elegant brush strokes.

Blanchard was born in a small village and studied in Rennes at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts there, followed by study at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris, a city that would be his major source of subject matter. His career was interrupted by the 2nd World War and later by the death of his father, which compelled him to take over administering the family business. When he later returned to Paris, and to painting, he found himself nostalgic for a more idealized past and began to paint using images he had collected of Paris in La Belle Époque, particularly the 1890’s.

His work seems strongly influenced by Édouard Cortès, a contemporary of Blanchard’s who is better known, and who employs similar themes of overcast skies and darkened Parisian streets punctuated with warm artificial lights. The tenor and tone of the two artists’ work, however, their handling of light and dark, their brushwork and choice of color range is very different. Their intention seems different as well. Cortés shows us his contemporary Paris bustling with early 20th Century automobiles and electric lights. Antoine Blanchard lets us walk back with him through the leisurely Parisian streets of a more relaxed and romantic time.

 
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19 thoughts on “Antoine Blanchard

  1. jason

    I have a Antoine Blanchard I am willing to sell, 19” X 24” Extremely beautiful, will sell for less than half its value, its “A street scene in Paris”

  2. Paul

    [email protected] looking to buy Blanchard paintings.

  3. Bob Billock

    I have a Blanchard with the same scene as pictured above, which
    I beleive is titled Cafe Paix.There is also another similar,
    if not identical scene titled The Opera House, which depicts
    three horses rather than two, as well as different colors.
    My painting appears to be(is) the same scene, but with a one
    horse buggy and is a close up of the two mentioned above. It
    also appears to depict an earlier time and is darker than them.
    I would appreciate your help with catgorizing my painting.

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    In browsing through the images of Blanchard paintings on the Rehs galleries site, I noticed more than one version of this scene, and alternate versions of other scenes.

    It was not uncommon for painters at the time to paint more than one version of a scene they liked or considered particularly successful.

    I’m afraid I don’t have much more information that that. You may want to check with the gallery or with the individual who commented above who is looking to buy Blanchard paintings.

  5. Eleanor Fusaro

    Going through my mother’s small estate I
    found picture of Paris street scene signed by Antoine Blanchard. Notre Dame is in right background; a woman with young girl and boy is walking along street with booksellers. It appears to be fall season.
    There is a piece of white plastic material glued to back. Picture,itself,is in good condition. I think its a reprint, but not
    sure how to research matter further.

  6. sam howry

    in regard to your comment , .”Comment by Eleanor Fusaro
    Tuesday, February 26, 2008 @ 8:43 pm
    Going through my mother’s small estate I
found picture of Paris street scene signed by Antoine Blanchard. Notre Dame is in right background; a woman with young girl and boy is walking along street with booksellers. It appears to be fall season.
There is a piece of white plastic material glued to back. Picture,itself,is in good condition. I think its a reprint, but not
sure how to research matter further.”

    I too, have a hardback print of this exact painting(at least i think so as you described it) …

    have you found anything interesting concerning it?
    email hidden; JavaScript is required

    i too have this

  7. Gooman

    I have a 20* 24″ Blanchard for sale in Virginia. email hidden; JavaScript is required it is well done, the more you admire it, the more talent you realize it took to paint it.

  8. Stuart

    Nicely written article… Enjoyed reading it – Thank you. I am also a great admirer of Blanchard’s work and am interested in purchasing original oil paintings of quality by the artist. Please send email with dimensions and pictures. I will respond promptly with my interest. email hidden; JavaScript is required

  9. Patricia

    I have a 24×27 Antoine Blanchard purchased in Paris ’82. It is an original oil painting. Beautiful Paris street scene. Anyone interested please contact me at my email address and I’ll be glad to send pictures.

  10. Sunil

    I get completely absorbed when I see Blanchard’s paintings. Through his works, he transports us back into time, into an idyllic era of charm, grace and romance. I find his paintings visually very appealing.

  11. Jonathan S.

    I have a 40 X 30 Oil Paiting by Antoine Blanchard.. Paris Au Printemp is the title .
    Willing to sell..email for more information.
    Been in my family for AT least 50 years.

  12. Simon B

    Jonathan S

    Please email details of your painting if it is still for sale: email hidden; JavaScript is required

  13. mary

    I have two Blanchard paintings, inherited from my grandmother, who purchased them in Shreveport, Louisiana. I have Place Vendome, and St. Denis. I have pictures and certificate of authentication, if anyone is interested. I live in Germany, so it would have to be shipped.

  14. todowia

    I found 3 days ago that is Anthoine Blanchard signed on the paint.That picture stays 20 years in my home.So today i asked some local artist 2 c it.He says it is oil on canvas with no doubt.But im lil sceptic cose its no so bright like other paints of Blanchards and its lack of rich colours.It is Notre-Dame street scene at the bookstore wit mom and two sons.Signature mus b also fake(not sure),Dimension is not standard 4 dat time,its 45×60 cm(not 45×55).
    So if any1 could help me determine wat peace i have -ill be thankful.Im in croatia-sibenik.
    email hidden; JavaScript is required

  15. Joyce Hartford

    I have 2 Antoine Blanchard prints, Champs Elyse’e and Place Du Luxembourg that are framed that I am offering for sale. I am not sure of their age but they are in very good condition. I would be very grateful if I am able to sell them for a good price. I am in Oregon.

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