Antoine Blanchard (Marcel Masson) was born in a small village in the Loire Valley of France on November 15, 1910. He was one of the most famous painters of Parisian streets scenes in the early 20th century. His father was a carver and managed a small carpentry and furniture shop. Blanchard displayed artistic ability early in life and his father, looking to encourage that talent sent him to Blois for drawing lessons. He continued his training at the Rennes Ecole des Beaux-Arts and upon completion was awarded the school's highest honor, Le Prix du Ministre.
By 1932, he left Rennes for Paris and studied at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts. It was in Paris that he developed a love for the city and its street life. In 1939, he married and in September of that year, he was called into the armed services when World War II started. He was not able to go back to his art until 1942. During that same year, his father died and he was compelled to return to his hometown to run the family business, giving him little time to paint.
By 1948, giving control of the family business to his younger brother, he returned to Paris to paint. Contemporary life in Paris had changed and he longed for the bygone days and began to research the Belle Époque period. Many of his paintings are based upon Paris in the 1890s based upon his extensive research.
Like his famous contemporary, Edouard Cortes, he devoted his artistic career to the depiction of Paris through all its daily and seasonal changes. But he was not an imitator of Cortes, but rather he depicted the life in Paris from his own point of view and with his unique style.
Exactly when Marcel Masson adopted the pseudonym Antoine Blanchard is not known, but the practice was not unusual for French painters to adopt a pseudonym because of contractual obligations with more than one dealer.
By the 1950s, Marcel Masson had become Antoine Blanchard, the painter of Paris. In the late 1950s, agents began to purchase Blanchard's paintings and exported them to the United States, selling them through galleries in New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Antoine Blanchard continued to paint until his death on August 10, 1988.
Today his works can be found in collections throughout the world. He is considered one of the leading exponents of the School of Paris painters.
A.P. Larde comments in his book on Blanchard, Antoine Blanchard: His Life His Work: "He has always spent much time on his work. This explains why his production has always been rather limited, unlike the hurried and multiple proliferations of some modern artists… Delicate touches of luminous and shimmering tones produce a marvelous impression of harmony, brightness and light. Alternate shadings and lights, sensitive and mellow blending allow the artist to attain a hardly-ever reached degree of grace, radiant and glimmering freshness.
First of all of what can be said of his works are a marvelous invitation to an ideal walk through old Paris, so different from that of today. Although a large number of monuments remain, today's Paris has little in common with Paris at the turn of the century; the scenery may almost be the same, its characters in their daily life have however changed. The customs have been entirely transformed. In his paintings, Blanchard invites us to relive this period by showing us pleasant strolls along embankments, squares and boulevards at a period in Parisian life when time did not count, when one had all one's time to idle, to stroll along the streets, to window shop, to walk quietly along the boulevards or spend the afternoon in a sidewalk café.
Edouard Cortes has always expressed himself in a rather rich virile style, using large and stressed touches, revealing a strength, which recalls the great masters of the XVIIIth century. On the contrary , Antoine Blanchard has always used small strokes, with a delicate, enveloping and mellow treatment; the slightest haziness which is a characteristic of his work in many ways recalling the great masters of the impressionist period."