René Richard, R.C.A., O.C. (1895-1982)

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René Richard was born December 1st, 1895, in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

 

His family settled in Cold Lake, Alberta, in 1909, when he was 9 years old.  Richard admired the aboriginal people's free way of life and decided to make it his own.  For thirteen years, from 1913 to 1926, Richard learned the woodsman and trapper's ways, surviving in the wilderness in harsh conditions. With only a packsack, he travelled through Northern Canada, by snowshoe in winter and canoe in summer, where he crossed paths with people of all origins, accompanied by their dog teams, and visited the aboriginal people camped along the lake.  All alone in these wide empty spaces is where René Richard first became an artist, drawing landscapes of the North and portraits of its inhabitants and their lifestyles.

 

In 1926, Richard began his first drawing lessons in Edmonton.  The following year he left for Paris, where he studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière and at the Academie Colarossi, from 1927 to 1930.  During his stay in Paris he became friends with Clarence Gagnon, who encouraged him to become a full-time artist.  Richard returned to Canada in 1930.

 

Once home, he returned to his life as a woodsman and headed for the wilderness.  There, inspired by the beauty of the great Canadian landscape, he made hundreds of drawings on butcher's paper, as he could not afford paper or canvas.  It was during this period of intense production that Richard came into his style.  He still led the life of a trapper, but paints and pencils were always now part of his gear.  From 1933 to 1938, he devoted himself particularly to drawing portraits and landscapes.

 

In 1942, Richard settled in Baie-Saint-Paul and married Blanche Cimon.  From that point forward, Richard dedicated himself to his art full-time.  Working in different mediums, including pencil, charcoal, watercolor and oil, his most notable subjects include semi-abstract landscapes, often with trappers.  In 1943, he sold his first paintings and began exhibiting regularly in the high profile galleries of Montreal and Quebec.  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 1950n and 1965.  In later years he mainly produced landscapes of the Charlevoix region. 

 

In 1973, at age 78, Richard received 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. 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 novel Menaud, maître draveur (translated as both Boss of the River and Master of the River) came out in 1979. In 1980, Richard became 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’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).

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

René Richard, R.C.A., O.C. (1895-1982)

"On the Saguenay"

Oil on masonite 24  x 30 in.  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

René Richard, R.C.A., O.C. (1895-1982)

"Trappers and Trail Companions"

Oil on masonite 30  x 32. 1/2 in.  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

René Richard, R.C.A., O.C. (1895-1982)

"Trappers and Dogs, at Rest in the Forest"

Oil on masonite 41  x 48 in.  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

René Richard, R.C.A., O.C. (1895-1982)

"Indian Enampment"

Oil on masonite 41  x 48 in.  (SOLD)

M.A. Suzor-Coté, R.C.A. (1869-1937)

"Apple Trees and Haystacks, Beauce, France", 1905

Oil on canvas 21.1/2  x 32 in.  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

M.A. Suzor-Coté, R.C.A. (1869-1937)

"Dusk, Lac à l'Eau Clair"

Oil on canvas 22  x 25.1/2 in.  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

M.A. Suzor-Coté, R.C.A. (1869-1937)

"Still Life with Apples and Chestnuts", 1902

Oil on canvas 18.1/2  x 25.3/4 in.  (SOLD)