Jacques-Émile Blanche

Jacques-Émile Blanche (French: [blɑ̃ʃ]; 1 January 1861 – 30 September 1942) was a French artist, largely self-taught, who became a successful portrait painter, working in London and Paris.

Jacques-Émile Blanche; portrait by Lucien Simon, 1903.

Early lifeEdit

Portrait of Jacques-Émile Blanche, John Singer Sargent, c. 1886.

Blanche was born in Paris. His father, whose name he shared, was a successful psychiatrist who ran a fashionable clinic, and he was brought up in the rich Parisian neighborhood of Passy in a house that had belonged to the Princesse de Lamballe.


Although Blanche received some instruction in painting from Henri Gervex, he may be regarded as self-taught. He became a very successful portrait painter, with a style derived from 18th-century English painters such as Thomas Gainsborough as well as Édouard Manet and John Singer Sargent. He worked in London, where he spent time from 1870 on, as well as Paris, where he exhibited at the Salon and the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. One of his closest friends was Marcel Proust, who helped edit several of Blanche's publications. He also knew Henry James and is mentioned in Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.[1]

In 1902, Jacques-Émile Blanche took over the direction of the Académie de La Palette, where he would remain director until 1911.[2][3] He taught at the Académie Vitti in 1903.[4]

Among the painter's most famous works are portraits of his father, Marcel Proust (private collection, Paris), the poet Pierre Louÿs, the Thaulow family (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), Aubrey Beardsley (National Portrait Gallery, London), and Yvette Guilbert and the infamous beauty Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione whom his father had treated for mental illness. Others he painted included James Joyce, Julia Stephen, Edgar Degas, Claude Debussy, Auguste Rodin, Colette, Thomas Hardy, John Singer Sargent, Charles Conder, Percy Grainger, and Tamara Karsavina as Stravinsky's Firebird.[5]

Published worksEdit

He was the author of the unreliable Portraits of a Lifetime: the late Victorian era: the Edwardian pageant: 1870–1914 (London: J.M. Dent, 1937) and More Portraits of a Lifetime, 1918–1938 (London: J.M. Dent, 1939), about which Walter Sickert said "he is liable to twist things he hears or doesn't into monstrous fibs".[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Blanche died at his home in Offranville-en-Caux, Normandy, France on 30 September 1942.[7]

Selected paintingsEdit


  1. ^ Abdy, Jane. "Blanche, Jacques-Emile" in Oxford Art Online.
  2. ^ Jacques-Émile Blanche, Maurice Denis, Correspondence, (1901-1939)
  3. ^ Benezit Dictionary of Artists
  4. ^ "Vitti, ??-??", The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, University of Glasgow, retrieved 2017-07-17
  5. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Blanche, Jacques Émile". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ Wendy Baron, Miss Ethel Sands and her circle (London: Peter Owen, 1977) p. 77.
  7. ^ "JACQUES BLANCHE, A FRENCH PAINTER; His Portraits Included Many of the Republic's Social and Political Celebrities DIES IN NORMANDY AT 81 Son of Noted Neurologist Also Art Critic. -- Paris Street Named for Grandfather" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 October 1942. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  8. ^ Julia Prinsep Stephen, née Jackson (1846–1895)

External linksEdit