Gifted in being allowed to live âthe dreaming lifeâ as he proclaimed, Octave Guillonnet proved to be an extraordinary talent. He entered the art studio of Lionel Royer in Paris at the young age of 13, won his first award at 15, and by the time he was 20, he earned the rank of Hors-Concours in the Salons. With this designation, his paintings hung directly in exhibits without needing to be judged by committee before inclusion. He excelled through his broad interpretation of the Impressionist School in painting garden and beach scenes, most often featuring women, with illusionary elements.
The son of a well-to-do couple, the Guillonnet family owned a summer residence near Monaco in Carras, and lived the rest of the year in Garches, west of Paris. He won a prestigious national travel scholarship in 1901 and went abroad to Algeria. With his new perspectives on the bright light and colors of North Africa, Guillonnet developed new concepts for producing his ethereal portrayals.
His talent is so nationally recognized that he become a popular illustrator as well, and his works for the story of Joan of Arc by Viola Ruth Lowe and âLâArlÃ©sienneâ by Alphonse Daudet are widely acknowledged as an important depictions of French national historic pride. He was commission directly to perform public works, such as 46 panels for the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Caracas, and a series of the âStations of the Crossâ in Philadelphia, as well as a significant work in the Hotel de Ville of Paris.