Jacques-Émile Blanche’s talents as a painter earned him considerable wealth and a prominent place in the art world of the early twentieth century. His friends and social acquaintance ranged from the avant-garde to the upper bourgeoisie and he moved with ease from one group to the other. His many portraits are evidence of the range of his connections and the broad recognition of his talent, including not only Jean Cocteau but others among the most famous French writers of the early years of the century.
Despite being born and raised in Paris, from the early 1880s he was a frequent visitor to London, where he worked with Whistler and Sickert. A regular exhibitor at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts from 1890, he also frequently exhibited in London at the Leicester Galleries and was given a monographic show at the National Gallery, a rare distinction for a living painter.
Tellingly, Blanche was the son of an eminent Parisian pathologist and enjoyed an excellent cosmopolitan education. He was brought up at Passy, in a house once belonging to the Princesse de Lamballe, thus the elegant and refined atmosphere of his home strongly influenced his artistic taste.
Blanche exhibited in Paris throughout his life, as well as winning a gold medal at the Exposition Legion d’Honneur in 1900 and the Salon des Tuleries in 1933. Blanche exhibited at the Salon from 1882 to 1889 and at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts from 1890. In 1884, together with Ary Renan, he organized and exhibited at the first Salon des Indépendants at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris.