Adam Sherriff Scott was born in Perth, Scotland in 1887. He studied art at the Edinburgh School of Art and immigrated to Canada in 1911 or 1912. He died in Montreal, Quebec in 1980.
He was a portrait painter as well as a landscape artist, but is best-known for his series of historical paintings of Canada, which he executed for Canadian Pacific, Royal Bank, and for the Public Archives of Canada.
He produced oil paintings about Champlain and painted self-portraits and Inuit portraits. He also received a commission for the Royal Bank of Canada in commemoration of the centenary of transatlantic steam navigation.
Adam Sherriff Scott produced paintings, prints, engraving, lithograph and watercolours.
The painter, watercolourist, draughtsman, printmaker, Marc-Aurele Fortin was born in Ste-Rose, Quebec, once a suburban village north of Montreal, and for his entire life, he was devoted to landscape painting that celebrated the beauty of nature. Even when depicting the port or suburbs of Montreal, such as Pont-Viau, he focused on the bucolic aspects of regions not yet encroached by modern urbanism and remained faithful to the role of the artist as a celebrator of nature’s beauty. “Painting”, he said, “is silent poetry”.
He studied with Edmond Dyonnet at the Council of Arts and Manufactures in Montreal by 1907 and with Edward J. Timmons at the Art Institute of Chicago by 1910. He lived in Edmonton in 1907-09, Chicago, New York and Boston in 1909-12. He travelled in France 1934-35.Marc-Aurele Fortin died in Macamic in 1970.
He painted in the Laurentians, Quebec City and vicinity, Île d’Orléans, Charlevoix, Gaspé and Saguenay regions.
Subsequent to his 1935 trip to Europe, Marc-Aurèle Fortin began to experiment with his manière noire, or black manner, whereby he covered the entire surface of his canvas or board with black enamel. Once it was dry, he deposited colour directly from the tube and then later extended these applications with a brush, achieving an intense luminosity and brilliance of colour.
Jean Paul Riopelle, painter, sculptor and engraver (b at Montréal 7 Oct 1923, d at Île-aux-Grues, Qué Mar 12 2002). He trained under two completely different masters: the academic painter Henri Bisson, who considered even the Impressionists a bit too extreme, and Paul-Émile BORDUAS, who was totally immersed in the avant-garde and surrealist movements. Borduas eventually won him over, and Riopelle joined the AUTOMATISTES school, exhibited with them in Montréal in 1946 and 1947, and in 1948 signed the REFUS GLOBAL (worldwide refusal) manifesto.However, Riopelle’s heart remained in Paris, where he finally settled. It was there that he found his vision, which he referred to as a controlled hazard. In Paris he was briefly associated with the surrealists and was the only Canadian to exhibit with them in 1947. In the end, however, he found that he had more of an affinity with what was known as the Lyrical Abstraction group. The 1950s were devoted to Paris (the critic Georges Duthuit took an interest in his work) and the Americas (the biennial exhibitions in São Paulo in 1951 and 1955, the Younger European Painters exhibition at the Guggenheim in 1953, the International Exhibitions in Pittsburgh in 1958 and 1961). This was also the period of his “grand mosaics,” paintings created using a spatula from multicoloured elements juxtaposed in a manner that recalls a landscape viewed from an airplane.
During the 1960s Riopelle diversified his means of expression, turning also to ink on paper, watercolours, lithography, collage and oils. He also began taking more risks in his painting, as if he were seeking to undo his past successes in order to explore new avenues. His paintings became more chaotic and more matierist, with Riopelle demanding of his materials that they free him of form, his own form. The large painting Point de rencontre (Point of Intersection) (1963), which was intended for the Toronto airport but is now at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, is the masterpiece from this period.
Beginning in 1969, Riopelle completed several sculptures, including the fountain in Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, which is called La joute (The Match) in honour of the hockey players who were his childhood sports heroes. In painting, he started the Hiboux (Owls) series, and at the same time developed an interest in Inuit string figures. In 1972, after the death of his mother, he returned to Québec and built a studio at Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson in the Laurentians. A trip to the Great North introduced him to unfamiliar black and white landscapes, resulting in the Icebergs series.
It is often said of Riopelle that he “returned to figures” in the 1980s, but it could also be said that he never really left them. He started the Oies blanches series on white geese, great migrators like Riopelle himself. At the same time, he abandoned traditional painting methods in favour of aerosol spray cans and often created works of art that resembled photographic negatives; that is to say, he projected his colour of choice onto an object that he then withdrew in a way that left only a negative impression of form on the canvas. His Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg (1992), which now hangs in the Hull Casino, marks the high point of this period and is considered to be Riopelle’s artistic legacy. It is also a tribute to love, to the American painter Joan Mitchell who was his companion for 25 years. In 1981 he was the first signatory of the Refus Global manifesto to be awarded the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas prize. Riopelle established his studios at Estérel, but he lived out his last years at Île-aux-Grues, upriver from Québec.
Réjane was born February 24, 1933 in St-Tite in the Mauricie . Self-taught, she began painting in 1968. Sanchangrin has a sensitivity and discretion that demonstrates a work inspired by a world of subtlety. She painted portraits with a wispy contact glance, or even the style of a garment, she reveals the mood of the painting. Its floral still life shows the same technique as in the palette that you find in the picture. Réjane Sanchagrin always touches very physically and morally. Having seen so many emotions in the eyes of patients ( she was a nurse in the art ) , Réjeanne Sanchagrin showed his paintings the years she spent in the hospital sector . If every detail of his work expresses a specific emotion , the complete work is mainly inspired by the human mind. The last years of his life, Réjane Sanschagrin dedicated only to painting.
Réjane Sanchagrin was born on Feburary 24, 1933 in St-Tite, Mauricie. Self-Taught, she started painting in 1968. An aura of sensibility and discretion is rising from her work inspired by a work inspired by a world of subtlety. She paints portraits with a vaporous touch of glance, or even by the style of a garment, she reveals the mood of the painting. Her floral still life shows the same technique and palette that you will find in the portrait. Réjane Sanschagrin is still very touched in front of physically and morally disable people and also in front of the helplessness of young people. By having seen so many emotions in the eyes of the patients threw the years in hospital areas, many of these emotions are still present. She abandons the emotions that she captivates from the others on her canvas. If each of her work translates a precise emotion, the overall work is essentially inspired by the human spirit. Since the last five years, Réjane Sanschagrin has done only paintings. Near the sixties, she brings richness to the time that passes by. By defining the existence of all artist as being a succession of passion and anguishes, she affirms the necessity of letting things live after us. – She died in 2008
In the purest fabulist Lafontaine’s tales, she takes the fantasy to bring her creatures to hold court, to get them around a festive table Mesmerized either by a gaggle of geese or tufted ducks cavorting on a pond, Chantale Jean makes her public aware of the strength and frailty of the many realms of the universe. Driven by a feeling of being part of a quiet universe exuding calm and harmony, or by the urgency of a collective confrontation between an individual and a group, Chantale Jean acts like a producer by directing her characters and even dialoguing with them.
Each painting becomes a silent piece of poetry which appeals to the spectator. Even, if the lyrics seem muted, the artist isn’t silent when voicing her admiration for Nature or defending it . Through art, she shows her commitment and position herself against those who would destroy all things for profit.
Her sense of humor always shines while she’s experiencing great pleasure directing her character.
Through the energy of her works, the combined figuration and abstraction never fail to impress the onlooker and make him experience feelings other than those savored by the artist.
The quaint range of her hues enhances the plasticity of her paintings and takes the spectator into her personal and unpredictable scenario.
Chantale Jean sensational creations are made of many colored but silly characters. Wild headings build up each presentation and take the public into her own ever-reinvented world.
Ever since he gave up architecture to pursue his painting, André Pitre’s art has evolved with continuity and coherence. André Pitre stands out as one of the most promising artists of his generation. His art tends towards harmony and beauty but under the pallet’s lavishness and composition he expresses his preoccupation for the human condition and fragile pleasures we try to protect as well as unheard anguish we all try to conquer.Inside both abstract and constructed spaces, figures come and go. They may be real or recalled from the past, as if the artist retained only the memory of their presence on the canvas. With Pitre, nothing is certain; anything is possible. As a reflective being, he never rushes to paint his subject; he has the wisdom to let the subject come from within.
If we look at the ensemble of his paintings since he began painting in 1993, we are faced with an enormous amount of work which has been conceived by sequences. Each component illustrates a state of being represented in life’s different stages. These ever changing moments in time are well incarnated in an intense and delicate space where beyond the figures’ apparent calmness is hidden drama. His figures never impose their presence; they are discreet and meld with other elements. Their presence, however, is increased tenfold as we understand precisely their psychological complexity.
Rene Richard, was born in Switzerland in 1895. His family relocated to Alberta, Canada in 1909, when Rene was only 9 years old. He began his studies in fine art in Edmonton in 1926.
The following year, he visited New York, but eventually settled in Paris in 1927. While in Paris, he studied at Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and at the Academie Colarossi until 1930. It was in France that he met Clarence Gagnon and James Wilson Morris.
Clarence Gagnon will have a big influence on the young Richard, it’s him who conviced him to capture on paper or on wood board the everyday scenery of Richard’s wild trapping adventures, he also introduced the artist to the magnificient region of Charlevoix.
Back in Canada by 1930, he began trapping animals in Western Canada and in the Arctic until 1942. Spending so much time living outdoors in the middle of the woods, inspired this artist to paint the beauty of the great Canadian landscape. He has worked in several mediums including, pencil, charcoal, watercolor and oil.
After his stint in the arctic, he moved to the Baie Saint-Paul region of Charlevoix, where the scenery is unique. His mentor, Clarence Gagnon, had now successfully convinced Rene Richard to dedicate himself to painting. He settled down, and wedded with Blanche Cimon. In the 50’s he left a few times the comfort of his Baie St-Paul home to explore the northerns territories.
From 1948 to 1950, Rene Richard exhibited his work at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and held several solo exhibitions at the Musée de Quebec from 1967-1977. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and his paintings can now be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, at le Musée de Quebec, the Universite de Laval, and in Several Galleries across Canada.
René Richard Rene Richard
René Richard (1895–1982) is remembered as a remarkable and charming man who followed his passions. He spent the first half of his life in search of himself, surviving in the wilderness in harsh conditions. Richard’s father had emigrated from Switzerland to settle in Alberta, but Richard chose a nomadic existence among the Cree and Inuit in Canada’s North. All alone in these wide empty spaces, Richard became an artist. In 1927, he decided to study painting in Paris, where he met Canadian painter Clarence Gagnon. Upon his return to Canada in 1930, he again took up trapping, this time in Manitoba, before finally settling in Baie-Saint-Paul where he spent the rest of his life, painting the luminous, brightly-coloured landscapes of the Charlevoix region in a style halfway between traditional figurative painting and the emerging Quebec expressionism of the 1950s. Richard’s work shines a light on many aspects of Canada’s natural landscape and social history and represents a major contribution to Canadian art.
A PAINTER OF WIDE OPEN SPACES AND CANADA’S NORTH
René Richard is without doubt one of the Canadian painters who best captured the North—its loneliness, rudimentary living conditions, and vast open spaces marked by the seasons. His prolific output stands as an impressive contribution to Canadian art: hundreds of works made up mostly of studies, drawings—a category that encompasses rough sketches, sanguine crayon, charcoal and pencil crayon as well as more detailed oil pochades and drawings in pencil crayon and felt pen—and small and large format oil paintings
No exhaustive catalogue raisonné of Richard’s work has yet been produced. Most works are housed in museums, government buildings, universities, private businesses and private collections. René Richard belongs among those Canadian artists who, like the Group of Seven, dedicated themselves to depicting Canada’s wide open spaces and vast wilderness
Whereas Canadian landscape paintings rarely depict human figures, Richard’s are often populated with the silhouettes of trappers, hunters and First Nations or Inuit people, as well as their sled dogs, tents, and huts. These silhouettes enter the landscape to bear witness to a way of life that, from adolescence into his forties, Richard shared with the trappers and aboriginal peoples of northern Alberta and Yukon, Nunavut and the Beaufort Sea area. Richard’s highly personal and somewhat expressionistic style conveys the struggle for human survival amidst the harsh northern environment of polar deserts, vast forests and rivers.
EaRLY LIFE AND IMMIGRATION: THE CALL OF NATURE
René Jeanrichard (later shortened to “Richard”) was only 11 when he began working at the family watch factory, where his father engraved pocket watches. A financial setback was behind Richard’s father’s abrupt decision to gather his sons and set off for Canada.
Vieux souvenirs, 1934
In those years the recently completed railway had opened up Canada for settlement and the government was working hard to attract European immigrants. The Prairies were promoted as “the last, best west” and free land was offered to those willing to homestead and work the land for three years(NOTE 4). This was the prevailing economic and social context when René Richard’s father landed with his three sons in Quebec City in 1909, before continuing westward to Edmonton the following year. Years later, the painter remembered those early days vividly: “We had loaded two wagons with everything a settler could need before leaving…The outfitters had us convinced that we would find a land of milk and honey. We set off for Cold Lake with four horses.” But Cold Lake proved disappointing. “We had to kiss our dreams of Eldorado goodbye…In the end, the ‘land rush’ had a lot in common with the gold rush of yore.”
Richard’s mother and four sisters eventually rejoined the men. The family had little choice but to work like slaves, “learning to live as settlers in the harshest, most demanding manner conceivable, without a moments rest either during the week or on Sunday.” Tiring of this ceaseless labour, the father finally gave up working the land.
THE TRAPPER’S LIFE: AN APPRENTICESHIP IN SOLITUDE
Disenchanted with the settler life, Young René was far more interested by that of the First Nations. The tents on the lake shore, the birch bark canoes and horses—everything about the freedom of these nomadic hunters’ existence exerted an irresistible pull on the young man. “Maybe I was attracted to this untamed life as a reaction against my childhood, when I had to work in a watch factory after school.”
Trappeurs et enfant
The clash of his childhood memories with “the freedom the Indians seemed to possess” inspired Richard to take to the woods with a friend named Charly. The pair spent entire days roaming the area on snowshoe, learning the valuable lessons this country of forests and lakes had to teach them about living in the wild. Richard crossed paths with people of all origins, accompanied by their dog teams, and repeatedly visited the aboriginal people camped along the lake, whose free way of life he admired. Finally, he decided to make this way of life his own.
For thirteen years, from 1913 to 1926, Richard learned the woodsman’s and trapper’s ways. With only a packsack, he travelled by snowshoe in winter and canoe in summer, criss-crossing northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and even the Northwest Territories (now Nunavut). From Edmonton via Dawson, then a key stop for gold seekers en route to Alaska, he traveled down the Mackenzie River to the Beaufort Sea where he spent time with the Inuvialuit. He would, however, always return to Edmonton. It was there that he took his first drawing classes. Attracted by painting, he decided to leave for France to study at a reputed academy in Paris.
THE STUDENT IN PARIS: NATURE TRUMPS CULTURE
Val d’Anivier, 1928
In early 1927 Richard registered at Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where Quebec painters Kittie Bruneau and Jean-Paul Lemieux would also study, and took a room at a small hotel near Montparnasse. Little interested in the other students’ internecine squabbles over competing artistic currents, he was almost ready to pack it in and go home after four months spent mastering his technique. Fortunately, the Montreal painter Clarence Gagnon took Richard under his wing. Gagnon encouraged him to visit the museums and to draw and paint in the street. Falling back on his nomadic ways, Richard would also periodically pack his knapsack and set off to explore the countryside. In this way he traversed the Haute-Savoie region, the Côte-d’Azur, and even Switzerland, invariably returning to Paris with a great many drawings and paintings. Richard returned to Canada in 1930.
Once home, he discovered the familiar landscapes that occupied his dreams. He recalls spending his days “hanging around,” drawing the First Nations people on the neighbouring reserve. But the woodsman’s life was calling. In August 1930 Richard outfitted himself and headed for the wilderness. There he began drawing and painting like a man possessed. It was during this period of intense production that Richard came into his style. He still led the life of an outdoorsman, but paints and pencils were always now part of his gear. Unable to afford paper or canvas, he used rolls of butcher’s paper cut down to the desired size. He would even scrape the paint off previously painted boards, destroying old works to make way for new ones.
Richard hadn’t forgotten his long-standing dream of tackling the Churchill River; he successfully completed the perilous journey in 1933. But the growing desire to paint would lead Richard to change his life. In 1938 he accepted his former mentor Clarence Gagnon’s invitation and moved to Montréal.
THE BAIE SAINT-PAUL YEARS: A HOME, ARTISTIC MATURITY, AND RECOGNITION
Maison à St-Hilarion
Summer 1938 was a pivotal moment in Richard’s life. It began on Île d’Orléans, near Quebec City, where Richard helped Gagnon take inventory of the works of Horatio Walker, a recently deceased painter. Then the two visited Baie-Saint-Paul. They stayed with the Cimon family, who had often put up Gagnon on his earlier trips to paint the Charlevoix region. Then, through Gagnon’s friendship with the deputy hunting and fishing minister , René obtained a position as a game warden in the Parc de la Montagne de la Table at the foot of Mont Albert on the Gaspé Peninsula. This ideal seasonal job allowed Richard to earn a living through the fall while giving him time to paint in the open air. Unfortunately, a government decision eliminated the position and the following autumn found Richard unemployed. His savings were enough to get him back to Baie-Saint-Paul and the hospitable Cimon family. Richard loved both the town and its landscape; he could see why it was his friend Clarence Gagnon’s favourite place. He moved in with the Cimons, who greatly appreciated the odd jobs he did for the family. Blanche, the family daughter, was won over by his thoughtfulness and consideration. The two married in 1942, despite opposition from some relatives. Not everyone in town approved of this atheist outsider; rumour even had it that Richard was a Russian spy! Fortunately, everything settled down in the end.
From that point forward, René Richard dedicated himself to his art full-time. In 1943, he sold his first paintings and held his first exhibition at L’Art Français, a Montréal gallery. It was a smash: within a day and a half, every painting had been sold. Richard was able to pay back his debts. His work was then looked after by high profile galleries in Montreal (Klinkhoff) and Quebec City (Zanettin). René Bergeron in Chicoutimi also continued to show Richard’s work.
René Richard, 1969
Richard’s reputation started growing. Artists, journalists and celebrities began knocking on his door. His routine was to receive guests over tea after his afternoon nap. His paintings were arranged for daylight viewing on the balcony of his large studio, adjoining the house. In 1948 and 1951 he joined expeditions to the Far North as a government consultant. These trips inspired the large-format northern landscapes Richard painted from memory between 1950 and 1965. In later years he chiefly produced scenes of the Charlevoix region where he made his home. He also became close friends with the authors Gabrielle Royand Félix-Antoine Savard, among others. During Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 1959 royal visit the couple was presented with a large René Richard painting depicting the Saguenay Fjord with two capes, Trinité and Éternité, in the background.
In 1973, at age 78, Richard was decorated with the Order of Canada. He travelled Europe with his wife Blanche and friends, including a visit to La Chaux-de-Fonds in his native Switzerland. Once home, he put aside painting and took up drawing again. Eye problems forced him to adopt new techniques, which he used to draw scenes of the Far North from memory with felt pens and colour pencils. During these years Richard divided his time between his garden, his friends and his drawing. In 1975, he illustrated Gabrielle Roy’s La montagne sécrète (translated as The Hidden Mountain) whose main character, Pierre Cadorai, was based on Richard. Another illustrated book, a new edition of Félix-Antoine Savard’s seminal novelMenaud, maître draveur (translated as both Boss of the River and Master of the River) came out in 1979. In 1980, Richard was made member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Two years later, one of his works depicting Nunavut, Great Slave Lake, was chosen by Canada Post for its 12 stamp themed series, “Canada Through the Eyes of its Artists.” René Richard died that same year, at age 86. His ashes were scattered from a helicopter over Parc des Laurentides near Baie-Saint-Paul, where a lake now bears his name.
René Richard will be remembered as a man with a zest for life, a man who realized his dream of capturing both the beauty and the violence of Canada’s arid, inhospitable, and often tumultuous wilderness, and lived to fulfill his dreams.
COMMEMORATING AN ARTIST’S HERITAGE
René Richard, September 9, 1978
René Richard’s immense talent was widely recognized by the late 1960s. Several major exhibitions of his work were held both during his lifetime (Musée du Québec, 1967 and 1978) and posthumously (City of Montréal, 1986; Villa Bagatelle, Quebec City, 1990; Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, 1992–1993; Centre d’Art de Baie-Saint-Paul, 1993; and Domaine Cataraqui, Quebec City, 1996).
In 1978 Richard’s home and the Cimon property in Baie-Saint-Paul were designated cultural properties. Twelve years later, in 1990, the house was made into an interpretation centre dedicated to Richard’s life and work. The center also welcomes visiting artists in residence. Another monument to Richard’s memory is Espace René Richard in the J.A. DeSève Pavillion at Quebec City’s Laval University, where a large wooden sculpture of a canoe evokes Richard’s love of this traditional mode of transport. Richard’s peers have also paid tribute in various ways. In 1993, the sculptor Gérard Thériault made a bust of Richard, now housed at the René Richard library in Baie-Saint-Paul. Another bust sits atop a monument in the Saint Roch garden in Quebec City, along with monuments to fellow painters Alfred Pellan and Horatio Walker. And a documentary drama based on Richard’s life and work, Sur les pas de René Richard, was produced in 2003
Filming of the documentary drama on Richard’s life, Sur les pas de René Richard, 2003
In October 1980 Richard donated a sizeable collection of his work to Laval University: 46 paintings and sketches as well as a dozen drawings used to illustrate Menaud, Maître-draveur. On his death he bequeathed a second collection of 131 paintings and drawings to the university. The René Richard foundation, created to commemorate the artist’s life and work, endows several scholarships awarded annually to Laval University visual arts students. In these myriad ways the legacy of this artist who so loved wide open spaces and freedom lives on.
Merci à Mme Esther Pelletier, professeur Université Laval
Andrée Vézina was born in 1952, in Montréal. She completeda B.A. in Sociology at the Université Laval while studying drawing in cegeps, museums and various workshops. After she left university, she experimented more thoroughly in art. She ‘s selftaught. her major solo exhibitions were held at Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil (1986); Galerie la Corniche in Chicoutimi (1987); Alliance française in Ottawa (1988). She has also participated int he exhibitions:”Les femmes peintres du Québec” at the Musée Marc-Aurèle Fortin (1989) and “Les Femmeuses”. She won 2nd and 3rd prizes awarded by the Canadian Watercolour Society in 1984 and 1985. She was also nominated “Artiste de l’année” at Pratt & Whitney in 1986.
Guide Vallée III.
Andrée Vézina has been an active member of the visual art scene in Québec for over thirty years. Her work is essentially centered on thematics, which prevail over her production, closely connected to seasons. Winter dims her colour palette, reflecting ambient luminosity as well as interiority inherent to this season. Musicians, tango dancers and theatrical display evolve subtly. Spring reanimates colour. Yellows, acid greens, bright pinks strive against shivery blues. Travel related themes emerge. The artist explores light from warm and sunny countries, depicting African women, Vietnamese pirogues, and laborers in fields or rice plantations. Summer warms the palette extensively, blending pinks, yellows, reds, oranges and violets. Colours and tones become vivid and intense, bringing forth flower bouquets and markets, street musicians, celebrating life! Autumn restores serenity with muted harmonies. The cycle of seasons initiated with fruit and vegetable markets now comes to term with still life of dry and faded flowers, late autumn fruit, and abandoned gardens. Tones of brown, ochre and black now prevail, inviting the return of vanished musicians. The plastic art of Vézina features generous textures created by the abundant use of material, allowing the artist to literally fragment paste. This dimension confers a tactile facet to her work, as she marks her canvas with irregular patterns flowing through the entire surface. The subject appears to be emerging from magma, engendering a fusion between form and matter. Ref. Robert Bernier in La peinture au Québec depuis les années 1960 Éditions de l’homme, pp. 327-328
Albert Rousseau was born in 1908 in St. Eitenne-de-Lauzon. His art career begins with attending the School of Fine Arts, from which he graduated in 1931. He had plans of becoming an independent artist but the Great Depression hit and the artist himself was forced to work. He continued to paint through this time period and beyond it. In 1956 he built a studio for himself and his colleagues to paint at. In 1960 Rousseau began to teach at various institutions in Quebec. He was known, during that time, for organizing a rural exhibition that ran annually, which other local artists have continued on with in his memory. In 1970 Rousseau purchased a mill which he had renovated in to a gallery setting and a place for artists to meet. It was known as Le Moulin des Arts and to this day artists still gather and show work in. It is also the sight of his annual show.
He is one of the forefathers of art in Canada. He had dedicated his life to it. Rousseau had traveled frequently and found it a stimulating source of his work. He would sketch during his travels work and then upon his return would return to his studio to create paintings from his sketches. Known best for his Impressionistic style of painting, it is one from which many other artists have used as inspiration for creating their own style. He was inspiring to and inclusive in the art world until his death in 1982. Rousseau’s pieces still on display portray the memories of a life in art well lived.
Henri Leopold Masson, Canadian, (OSA, CGP, GSPWC)was born in Namur, Belgium in 1907. He came to Canada with his family in 1921 and settled in Ottawa. He was employed as a silver engraver for several years as a young man and became a master engraver at the age of 25. Visiting the National Gallery of Canada around this time he discovered the work of the Group of Seven. Inspired by their style and use of colour he was inspired to try painting himself. He studied for a time at the Ottawa Art Association, but was mainly self taught. Two years later, in 1934, he was already emerging as a painter of importance. By 1945 he could devote most of his time to painting and exhibited extensively with good success. He painted genre scenes in the Hull area and landscape in the Gatineau Valley. He also painted on trips to Europe and the United States. He exhibited at the Robertson Galleries and Wallack Galleries in the 1960 and 70’s. A significant collection of his work is housed in the National Gallery of Canada. He died in 1996.
Henri Masson was born 10 January 1907 in Spy, a small village near Namur in Belgium. He started his studies at the Athénée Royale of Brussels when he was 13 and from then on all his spare time was devoted to drawing and painting. After his father died in 1921, he and his mother immigrated to Canada, settling in Ottawa. He started working in an engraving studio in Ottawa in 1923. He also took courses at the Ottawa Art Association and the Ottawa Art Club.
He earned his living, as an engraver until 1945, ensuring the security of his family, which he explained, was vital considering that he had three children and was not by nature a bohemian. This was also a period when few artists were able to make a living by their art alone. Masson therefore worked at the engraving studio during the day and painted in the evenings and on weekends.
Masson first exhibited in 1933, a group exhibition to which he submitted a selection of watercolors, pastels and drawings. His first showing of oil paintings was in 1936 in an exhibition at the Ontario Society of Artists in Toronto.
The Masson household was a beehive of activity and an interesting mix of friends met once a week to discuss music, painting, politics and the state of society. Eclectic, cultivated, open-minded, Masson could be the heart and soul of any gathering. He talked about music as a connoisseur, he was well informed about politics and he could hold forth easily on travel and other interests. He discussed painting in simple terms, very much in the manner of the paintings he produced. For Masson, everything was clear, simple and orderly. It is not surprising that he followed his own inclinations, independent of various trends developing in the arts in Canada. His quick and outspoken manner on occasion caused some controversy, but there was never any contradiction in his paintings or in the consistency of his work.
In 1937, on the birth of his first son, Carl, Masson exhibited at the Caveau. His first solo exhibition was held at the Picture Loan Society in Toronto in 1938, followed by another solo exhibition in 1939 at the Caveau. He also exhibited with the Canadian Group of Painters as well as exhibiting in New York and Montreal.
Masson started exhibiting at the Galerie L’Art Français in 1941. That same year, he became a member of the Canadian Group of Painters and joined the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor and the Société des Arts Graphiques.
In 1944, with H.O. McCurry, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer, Masson adjudicated an exhibition of war art held at the National Gallery of Canada. He also exhibited his paintings at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven and the Fine Arts Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Still in 1944, The National Film Board discussed Henri Masson and his art in a documentary film. He was elected president of the Ottawa branch of the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1945. Masson taught at Queen’s University Summer School in Kingston from 1948 to 1952. He returned to Europe in 1952 for the first time, visiting his hometown in Belgium.
In the summer of 1954, he taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts and in 1955 he was granted an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Assomption College in Windsor, Ontario. That same year he taught at the Kingsmere Summer Festival along with A.Y. Jackson. His painting, “Logs on the Gatineau River,” was reproduced for the cover of the Canadian Geographical Journal.
Masson returned to Europe in 1957, this time travelling in Italy, France and Belgium. From 1960 to 1963 he taught summer courses at the Doon School of Fine Arts. He illustrated an article on the quiet revolution in Quebec, “Quebec in Revolt,” that was published in Fortune Magazine.
In 1973 Masson travelled to the Soviet Union. In 1975 he participated in an hour-long radio interview at Radio-Canada. He travelled to the Orient in 1976: Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. In 1979 the municipality of Sainte-Catherine d’Alexandrie honored Masson, naming a street after him. In 1980 Masson took part in Radio-Canada’s television program “Rencontres,” and as part of the L’Atelier series, he was also interviewed by Naim Kattan of Radio-Canada FM.
Masson was a member of:
the Canadian Group of Painters the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts the Federation of Canadian Artist
Masson is first and foremost a landscape artist. He paints from nature; trees, villages, the sea, lighthouses and small boats. It is easy to see from his work that Masson liked old houses and street scenes. He did not look for the spectacular but for local neighborhoods and back yards. He was particularly interested in French Canadian history. Although Masson painted European landscapes, he was essentially a Canadian who painted landscapes depicting the Ottawa region, Gatineau and especially the province of Quebec: Gaspé, Charlevoix (notably Baie St. Paul), the Eastern Townships and the Laurentians.
Masson sketched outdoors, always conscious of the purity and light of the diverse tones in nature. These sketches were the starting point for the paintings completed in his studio. His sensitivity, his expertise and his love of nature and humanity transformed everything he touched. Under his agile brush even the most mundane subjects became exciting. In 1940 the art critic Marious Barbeau noted that the artist was interested in the inhabitants of the countryside that he explored, preferring scenes where people were at work or at play. He described Masson as a chronicler and a landscapist. In the eyes of many critics Masson was the perfect artist, reflecting all the qualities attributed to Canadians in his art.
In the 1940s critics extolled Masson’s realism, the intensity of his color and his gift for satire. The critic P. Gélinas, writing in Le Jour, congratulated Masson for not following the current fashion in art, developing his own vision rather than choosing a middle ground between cubism and surrealism. He also noted that Masson had a sense of luminosity, an understanding of the drama of autumn, the tragedy of the wind and the indefinable mystery of light. In the eyes of the critics Masson was one of the best watercolorists in the country.
Masson gave to everything he touched a dynamic and vigorous force. His paintings, often joyful, are richly descriptive and his sharp eye for detail is reflected in whichever medium he uses. By 1943 Masson was at the height of his talent. He drew the attention of his viewers through the color and movement in his work. He used bold colors brilliantly and with obvious pleasure. Nevertheless, there is a subtlety to his art. The uniqueness of his composition emphasizes the artist’s individuality to the point that critics are inevitably taken by the overall excellence of his paintings.
In the course of numerous discussions about his work, Masson said of his paintings that with experience his paintings changed and evolved with the passing years. This happened slowly, almost imperceptibly. When he was painting during the years 1945, 1946 and 1947 he said that he used colors that were more somber, and that his work was more graphic, his paintings more austere. He also said that he painted subjects that allowed him to display his understanding and personal vision.