His father, a cousin of the vice-Queen of New Spain (Mexico), was born in San Luis Potosí (Mexico) of Spanish ancestry; his mother was a Londoner. La Gándara's talent was strongly influenced by both cultures. At only 17 years of age, La Gándara was admitted as a student of Gérôme and Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts and, later, at Auguste Boulard's studio.
The artist rubbed shoulders with the Hydropathes and much contributed to the first years of activity of the Chat Noir cabaret, established by Rodophe Salis, along with friends such as Henri Rivière, Émile Goudeau, Steinlen, Caran d'Ache and Adolphe Willette.
In 1884, the jury Salon des Champs-Élysées singled out the first work he had ever exhibited: a portrait of Saint Sebastian. In 1885, La Gándara met the Count Robert de Montesquiou and painted his portrait. Soon, young La Gándara became one of the favourite artists of the Paris elite. His models included the Countess Greffulhe, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg, the Princess of Chimay, the Prince de Polignac, the Prince de Sagan, Leconte de Lisle, Verlaine, Leonor Uriburu de Anchorena, Sarah Bernhardt, Romaine Brooks, Jean Moréas, Winnaretta Singer, and Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau (famously portrayed by John Singer Sargent as Madame X). Influenced by Chardin, Zurbáran, Vélasquez and Goya, his mastery is demonstrated by the simplicity of the finest details of his portraits, and by the serenity of his representations of the bridges, parks, and streets of Paris.
Gándara illustrated a small number of publications, including Les Danaïdes by Camille Mauclair, and - with Whistler, Forain, and Yamamoto - Les Chauves-Souris ("The Bats") by French poet Robert de Montesquiou. According to Wikipedia, the book, published in 1893, has become a rare collector's item. The first exhibition of La Gándara's work organized in New York by Durand-Ruel, in 1898, was a resounding success and confirmed the painter as one of the masters of his time. Major newspapers and magazines routinely reproduced his portraits, several of which made the front page of publications like the fashionable Le Figaro magazine. La Gándara participated in the most important exhibitions in Paris, and other major cities in Europe and the United States of America.
He died on 30 June 1917, and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. Wikipedia writes: Although his fame faded rapidly after his death, growing interest in the 19th century saw him regain popularity as a key witness of the art of his time, not only through his canvases, but also as a model chosen by the novelists Jean Lorrain and Marcel Proust, and through the anecdotes of his own life narrated by Edmond de Goncourt, André Rouveyre, Guillaume Apollinaire Georges-Michel, and Robert de Montesquiou.
See : Antonio de La Gandara, Un témoin de la Belle Epoque, by Xavier Mathieu, Published by La librairie des Musées
French painter, pastellist, lithographer and draughtsman, Antonio de La Gándara was born in Paris in 1861 and died in his studio 22 rue Monsieur-Le-Prince in 1917. See the family tree