01.01.1861 (Paris, France) - 20.09.1942 (Paris, France)
Jacques-Emile Blanche was born in Paris in 1861 and enjoyed an excellent cosmopolitan education. He grew up amidst the Parisian society and became one of the foremost portrait painters of Belle Époque Paris.
Blanche came from a family of eminent physicians. His grandfather was the founder of a progressive mental health institution and launched the concept of treating patients with compassion in a residential environment. Amongst the highly selected clientele were celebrated musicians, writers and artists. The clinic was located in an 18th century mansion in Passy on the western edge of Paris, formerly belonging to the Princess de Lamballe, with ample gardens and natural springs.
The young Blanche was privileged to meet a number of the finest artistic figures of his day, either because they were patients at the clinic (the Blanche family lived on site) or because they attended his mother’s Sunday Salons. Already at a very young age he was introduced to painters like Delacroix, Corot, Degas, Puvis de Chavannes and Fantin-Latour.
Blanche quickly became an admired portraitist, not only in France but also in England. He visited London regularly and worked with artists such as Whistler and Sickert. In his work he was influenced by the English 18th-century artist Thomas Gainsborough, but also by contemporaries such as John Singer Sargent and Edouard Manet.
Although Blanche had no formal artistic training – except for a few lessons with Henri Gervex and Ferdinand Humbert – his talents as a painter earned him considerable wealth and a prominent place in the art world of his time. Many of his friends were painters and writers, among them Edgar Degas, Paul Helleu and Marcel Proust, just to name a few.
Blanche exhibited regularly throughout his life. One of the highlights being a monographic show at the National Gallery in London, a rare distinction for a living painter. He won a gold medal at the Exposition Legion d’Honneur (1900) and at the Salon des Tuileries (1933). More recently, his painting of the Russian dancer and choreographer Vaslac Nijinsky in 'Danse Siamoise' set an auction record of $ 662,500 at Christie’s New York.
J. Roberts, Jacques Émile Blanche 1861-1942 (monographie), Paris 2012;
M. Bialek, Jacques-Emile Blanche à Offranville: peintre-écrivain, Offranville 1997
'Du côté de chez Jacques-Emile Blanche, un salon à la Belle Epoque', in 2012 at the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.
Work by Jacques-Emile Blanche is to be found in many museums all over the world, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Musée d' Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.