(Engayrac, 1860 – Paris, 1942)
The Masqued Ball
Oil on panel
Signed lower left
33 x 24cm
A native of Engayrac in the Lot-et-Garonne, Antoine Calbet began to forge an impeccable technique at the School of Fine Arts in Montpellier in the studio of Édouard-Antoine Marsal (1845-1929). He then went without difficulty to the National School of Fine Arts in Paris in the prestigious studio of Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889).
Antoine Calbet arrived on the Parisian arts scene at a time when the Third Republic was seeking to establish its legitimacy through prestigious artistic achievements. Noticed by President Fallières, whose friend he became, he juggled between official orders and private requests.
The artist exhibits regularly at the Official Salon, his first painting being accepted when he was just twenty years old. He won a medal in 1891, 1892 and 1893. He also won a silver medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1900 for the production of a panel for the Colonies pavilion.
His success at the Salon brought him many official commissions for large decorations: the ceiling of the Decourneau Theater in Agen, wall decorations for the Town Halls of Pamiers and Agen. In Paris, we admire in the restaurant of the Lyon train station Le Train Bleu its evocations of Nice, Evian, Nîmes and Grenoble.
Calbet's painting restores the positive atmosphere that marks the success of the Third Republic, which endures despite the horrors of the Great War. His subjects are light, euphoric, his women exquisitely beautiful, his official portraits imposing. He excels in gallant scenes, the evocation of an idyllic past à la Watteau, or the exaltation of a grandiose nature.
Antoine Calbet also illustrated many works by his contemporaries, including Jean Lorrain, Henri de Régnier and Pierre Louÿs, and also worked for periodicals such as L'Illustration.
The artist died in Paris on August 21, 1942.
Museums: Paris (Mus. d’Orsay and Petit Palais), Agen, Toulouse, Béziers, Reims, Dallas…
(Bibliography: Clarisse Faurie, Antoine Calbet (1860-1942), life and work, University of Toulouse, 2004)
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