Private collection, United States
Blanchard received his initial artistic training at the Beaux-Arts in Rennes, Brittany. He then moved to Paris in 1932 where he joined the École des Beaux-Arts there. During his studies he won the Prix de Rome.
Despite the repetition of subject matter in Blanchard’s oeuvre, however, each painting has its own character. As a Neo-Impressionist, Blanchard’s preoccupation was not the scene itself, but the effect of light. For example, in this picture of the Place de la Madeleine, the cobbled street glistens with freshly fallen rain, and the sky above is a mixture of grey and blue as the storm clears. The orange light from the tram in the centre of the road, and the shop windows at the sides provide a romantic and autumnal glow to the painting, reflecting Blanchard’s nostalgia for the past he never experienced.
In the late 1950s, Blanchard’s street scenes were exported to the United States and the United Kingdom, where they were sold quickly. By the1960s, Blanchard paintings were immensely popular with collectors who loved Parisian scenes but who could not afford the works of Cortès or one of the other French painters known for their views of Paris in the Belle Époque. Eventually Blanchard’s more delicate, feathery pastel-toned scenes of rain-swept Paris became sought after in their own right and, when he died, he was considered the last of the École de Paris or “School of Paris” painters. His paintings are now widely collected, and his name is said in the same breath as Laloue and Cortès.