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 Nicolas (Nicola, Nicholas) De Grandmaison  (1892 - 1978)



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Lived/Active: Alberta / Canada/Russian Federation      Known for: portrait painting, often Indian subject

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Nicholas Grandmaison is primarily known as Nicolas (Nicola, Nicholas) De Grandmaison

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Ad Code: 3
Nicola De Grandmaison
from Auction House Records.
"One Gun Blackfoot from Cluny, Alberta"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Born in Moscow, Russia, Nicola De Grandmaison became a Canadian painter of Indian portraits in pastel.  His motto was: "Unless we appreciate the past, we will never have a future."

While serving as an officer in the Russian Army during World War I, he was captured by the Germans.  He then studied art in Paris and at St. John's Wood in London before emigrating in 1923 to Canada.

When he did Indian portraits, he had the subjects sign the work. One of his portraits was of "High Eagle," the last survivor of the Custer massacre. Because of his portrait skills, he was made an honorary chief of the Peigan Indian tribe. He also did a portrait of John Hunter, English portrait painter who spent much time in Taos, New Mexico.

He lived much of his later life in Banff, Canada, and upon his death, he was buried in the Brocket Indian Cemetery in Brocket, Alberta.

Obituary of the artist, Courtesy Sue Willoughby, Prescott, Arizona
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West


Biography from Mayberry Fine Art:
Nickola (or Nicholas) de Grandmaison was born in Russia in 1892.  He fought in the Russian army during WWI and spent time as a prisoner of war.  Making his way to England following the war, he studied at the St. John's Wood Art School* in London. Some time later he traveled to Paris and undertook further art studies there.

He immigrated to Canada in 1923 and settled in Banff, Alberta.  Wishing to discover more about his adopted country, de Grandmaison often traveled from his home in the mountains to the prairies.  He found his subjects among the native people he sought out along the way.  He was the only artist able to persuade High Eagle, the last surviving warrior of the Custer massacre, to sit for him, an example of the rapport he maintained with his native subjects.

When asked why he preferred to paint native Indians he commented, ". . .to me it is a great honour. . .they have colour, character and history in their blood".  This statement inspired the title of a book, which records 64 pastel portraits painted between 1930 and 1960. History in their Blood, by Hugh Dempsey, was published in 1982.

De Grandmaison passed away in 1978. His work is represented in the National Gallery of Canada, and his honors include an associate membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* and the Order of Canada.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary


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