Jacques Émile Blanche (1861-1942) was a well-regarded French painter with a lengthy career. He was born in Paris. He grew up in Passy. His father was a fashionable nerve specialist. Jacques would later paint quite a number of his father's affluent patients. Jacques was raised in a house once belonging to the Princesse de Lamballe. It still retained the atmosphere of 18th century elegance and certsinly influenced his adult taste and work. Art was an important topic of conversation in his boyhood home. The cosmopolitan atmospsphere added to his education. Henri Gervex offered some instruction, but Blanche was a largely self-taught artist. His reputation was primarily due to his portrait work and he has left us some wonderful images of refined, elegant French and English families during the late-19th and early 20th centuries. His work was in vogue during his day, Art critics, however complsain thst he lacked creativity and originality and basically copied the style of contemporary portratists, including James Tissot and John Singer Sargent. Blanche was reportedly close to both Edgar Degas and Jules Taschereau. He exhibited at the Salon (1882-89) and at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1890- ). He traveled to London annually and painted many portraits there. One of his most important work is a portrair of Proust. The two were close friends. Blanche normally spent the summers at the family home in Dieppe. He would invitechis artistic friemnds to visit him there. He played a major role in turning Dieppe into an artidts colony. Among his frequent visitors were the great American portratist John Singer Sargent.
It was a Dieppe that Blanche psainted his masterpiece--a wonderful image of the Norwegian landscape artist Frits Thaulow surrounded by his family (figure 1). Here Blanche demonstrates his ability to capture the personality of his subjects. Thaulow's son wears a sailor suit just as French boys commonly did at the time. Note the wide-brimmed sailor hat and twin streamers. We do not know of other portrais of children painted by Blanche. Blanche died in Dieppe during the NAZI World War II occupation (1942).
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