Antonin Proust was born at Niort, Deux-Sèvres. In 1864 he founded an anti-imperial journal, La Semaine hebdomadaire which appeared in Brussels. He was war correspondent for Le Temps in the early days of the Franco-German War, but after the Battle of Sedan (1870) he returned to Paris, where he became secretary to Léon Gambetta and superintended the refugees in Paris.
He entered the Chamber of Deputies as representative for his native town in 1876, taking his seat on the left. In Gambetta's cabinet (1881–1882) he was minister of the fine arts, and in the Chamber of Deputies] he was regularly commissioned to draw up the budget for the fine arts, after the separate department had ceased to exist. Prosecuted in connection with the Panama scandals, he was acquitted in 1893. From this time he lived in the closest retirement. On 20 March 1905 he shot himself in the head, dying of the wound two days later.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Proust, Antonin". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 490.
- 8-8-2002 Specularity in Late Nineteenth-Century French Literature and Art, Marguerite Li, Bassi University of New Orleans.