Arc de Triomphe

by Antoine Blanchard


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 21.8 x 18.3 ins/55.4 x 46.5 cm
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Antoine. Blanchard.’ (Lower Right)

Antoine Blanchard is the pseudonym under which the French painter Marcel Masson painted his immensely popular Parisian street scenes. He was born in a small village near the banks of the Loire.


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    The artist began painting his Paris street scenes in the late 1950s, and like Cortès, often painted the same Paris landmark many times, in different weather conditions or various seasons. The most recurrent subject matter comprised street scenes on rainy days, often at dusk, depicting famous areas of central Paris.

    Private collection, USA

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    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, the cobbled street glistens with freshly fallen rain, and the sky above is a mixture of grey and blue as the storm clears.

    In the late 1950s, Blanchard’s street scenes were exported to the United States and the United Kingdom, where they were sold quickly. By the 1960s, 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.

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