The French Art Shop opened its doors on April 1st 1978 as a tiny shop in Durham St West in Auckland. In the beginning it exclusively sold products from Lefranc et Bourgeois (established in 1720), hence the name of the business.

The store, now in Sandringham, moved to larger premises in Ponsonby in 1989. Ponsonby at that time was very bohemian and the home of many of New Zealand’s soon to be famous artists such as Tony Fomison, Dick Frizzel, Dean Buchanan, Tim Wilson and Pamela Wolfe to name but a few. The extra space allowed for a rental gallery that was let to emerging artists and was to be the launch pad of many successful art careers.

As the business expanded the gallery was taken over as a canvas and easel showroom, this also saw the beginning of our custom canvas stretching service which is still a major part of both the Auckland and Wellington businesses. At this time we had also acquired the exclusive Sennelier, Raphael, Charbonnel and Conte agencies thus becoming not only leaders in the supply of oil and acrylic paint but also pastel, printmaking and quality brushes.

In 2001, a custom-designed art store was established on Ponsonby road that has gone on to win the prestigious Top Shop awards twice including Retailer of the Year in 2005. This is testament to the enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment of the staff and is a culture that is still evident every time you enter our store.

Our Wellington shop opened in 2006 and saw us embrace the advancements in modern paint technology as we followed the international trends to more environmental paints that are safer for the artist and better for our country. These included safer state of the art aerosol paints from Montana in Germany. The Wellington store closed it’s doors in July 2020 after 14 memorable years.

Yesterday, when you went to buy that special brush for that particular stroke – did you get to test it? Did you get shown around the store? Did you feel the welcoming smile of the assistant serving you? Did you find the lollie jar at the counter? No? You were shopping at the place down the road.

Morningside Art Shop Mural, 2023