Antonio de la Gandara (1861-1917)
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Antonio de la Gandara was born in Paris, France, known for his paintings of the fashionable ladies of the Belle Epoque. His father was from Mexico and his mother was from England, and his artistic abilities eventually became reflective of all three cultures. At age 15, de La Gandara was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was a pupil of Jean-Léon Gérome. He was honored in 1883 at the Salon des Champs-Elysées, and was singled out by the jury for his portrait of Saint Sebastian; the first work he ever exhibited.
This early achievement was to set the pretense for de La Gandara’s success over the next few years in Paris. He became a favorite among the art elite, and had Princes and Princess sit for him, as well as duchesses and other historical notables like Paul Verlaine and Sarah Bernhardt.
During this time, de La Gandara was highly influenced by fellow painter Chardin, and followed the artists use of simplicity and fine detail to achieve his beautiful portraits. He also worked alongside other famous artists such as James McNeil Whistler and Jean-Louis Forain illustrating books and volumes of poetry, such as “The Bats” by French poet Robert de Montesquiou. This book, published in 1893, has since become a rare collector’s item.
Gandara held his first exhibition in New York in 1898, which was met with much acclaim and great success. Art critics felt that this show confirmed him as one of the greatest painters of his time. His portraits were also routinely published in magazines and newspapers, like the fashionable “Le Figaro” magazine, and many of which even made it to the front page.
Throughout his career, de la Gandara exhibited all over the world in the United States, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Barcelona, Dresden and Saragossa. Sadly, after his death in 1917, his popularity quickly waned.
However, a new and growing interest in late 19th century art has brought his work back into the spotlight, and his work has once again regained popularity. Still wondering about a French portrait in your family collection? Contact us…it could be by Antonion de la Gandara.