|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Charles-Édouard Masson Huot (1855 – 1930)|
A very prominent and prolific late 19th and early 20th century Quebec muralist, painter, draftsman, illustrator (1) and educator, Charles-Édouard Masson Huot (AKA: Charles Huot) was born in Québec City, Canada lived there most of his life and died in the city’s suburb of Sillery (2). Throughout his career, Huot received a constant stream of important commissions for murals, portraits and paintings to decorate churches and public buildings in Quebec City and elsewhere. The first commission was received in 1873 his last completed by others after his death (3). Dozens of his paintings and drawings are in Canadian museums, many of his murals still decorate churches and public buildings in Quebec, and his work is discussed in almost all comprehensive Canadian art history books.
His mediums included oil, watercolor, fresco*, gouache*, pastel*, pen & ink, pencil and chalk. His subjects were portraits, figures, landscapes, seascapes, still life, biblical stories, battles, historic events, historic people, interiors, villages, ruins, harbors, farms, beaches, rivers, allegory* and genre*. His styles were Realism* and Impressionism*.
He was considered a perfectionist and took art classes for much of his life, his formal art education spans decades and includes studies in Paris at the studio of Alexandre Cabanel (1874) and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (1875 – 1878); in Rome at the Accademia di San Luca under Francesco Gai (1904); and in Brussels at the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts under Jean Delville (c. 1905 – 1907). According to Jean-René Ostiguy, there is evidence Huot was also influenced by the work of Jean-Paul Laurens and Fernand Cormon (“Charles Huot” pp. 8 and 26). (4) (5)
Huot spent a lot of time in Europe (France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and Germany). In addition to his studies, he travelled there frequently to do research for commissions and for vacations. He lived in Paris for fifteen years from 1871 to 1886, and he lived with his in-laws in Neukrug, (northern) Germany from 1887 to 1889. His last trip to Paris was in 1927 to do research for what turned out to be his last commission.
His teaching career began in 1890 with giving lessons in his Quebec City home, and from about 1900 to 1917 he was an instructor at the Quebec Technical School (l'École des arts et métiers de la Province de Québec), Quebec City.
He does not appear to have been an active member of any artist associations (6). He exhibited in Paris at the salons* of 1876, 1877, 1881, 1882, 1884 and 1885; with the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1876 and 1877; at the Exposition Universelle* of 1878; and at the “Black and White Exhibition” of 1888. In Canada, he exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal in 1894, 1908 and 1909; with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* in 1902, 1903, 1908 and 1925; and in the Second Annual Exhibition of Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa in 1927.
In 1900, Huot had a solo exhibition of about one hundred pieces at the Quebec Legislative Building.
Posthumously, his paintings were included in the 1978/79 touring exhibition “Landscape Painting in Quebec (1800 – 1940)” which was shown at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax, N.S.), Memorial University Art Gallery (St. John’s, Nfld.), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, N.B.), and the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City). More recently, his works were included in “Quebec, a city and its artists” shown at the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts in 2008.
One of his smallest paintings is one of his most famous works. The 16” X 22.5” oil on canvas titled The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (dated 1900) was exhibited at the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City) in 1952, at the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.) in 1959, the Museum of Bordeaux, France (“The Art of Canada”) in 1962; and at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) in "Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art" the 1967 Canadian centennial exhibition. The same painting is also illustrated in several books including "The Fine Arts in Canada" (1925), by Newton MacTavish; “Painting in Canada: a history” (1966), by J. Russell Harper; "Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art" (1967), by R.H. Hubbard and J.R. Ostiguy; and in “A Concise History of Canadian Painting” (1973), by Dennis Reid (see all in AskART book references).
Huot’s works are in numerous private collections. His surviving murals are in the Church of Saint-Sauveur, Quebec; the churches of Saint-Joseph (Carleton, Quebec), Saint-Patrice, (Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec), and Notre-Dame (Hébertville, Quebec); in the chapel of Lac-Bouchette, Quebec City; and in the Quebec Legislative Buildings, Quebec City. There are also 185 examples of his paintings, drawings and designs in Canadian museum collections.
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* there are Huot works in the permanent collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), La Pulperie (Chicoutimi, Quebec), McCord Museum of Canadian History (Montreal), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Musée Pierre-Boucher (Trois-Rivières, Quebec), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
Huot’s awards and honors include an honorable mention in the Paris salon of 1876, a silver medal at the “Black and White Exhibition” of 1888 and, posthumously, he was named an Officer of Public Instruction by the Province of Quebec for services to French artistic expression.
1. While in France between, 1878 and 1886, Huot did illustrations for several publishing firms including those of Charles Delagrave, Firmin Didot and Hachette. Source: “Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Volume XV, 1921 – 1930” (2005), edited by Ramsay Cook (see AskART book references).
2. Several sources note that Huot died in Bergerville, Sillery, Quebec, a town which borders the Plains of Abraham Battlefield to the east and Quebec City to the north and east. Sillery is only two miles from the centre of downtown Quebec City but, due to very irregular municipal boundaries, is not technically part of Quebec City. Source: Google Maps.
3. Huot became sick and died while painting his last commission, a mural for the Quebec Legislative Council Chamber, which he had been working on for over three years. It was completed by two students, from the École des Beaux-Arts of Montreal and the École des Beaux-Arts of Quebec City, under the supervision of their respective principals, Charles Maillard and Henry Ivan Neilson. Source: “Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Volume XV, 1921 – 1930” (2005), edited by Ramsay Cook (see AskART book references).
4. J. Russell Harper, in Early Painters and Engravers in Canada (see AskART book references), notes that Huot also studied painting under Theophile Hamel, for this Harper is the only source (p. 167). Since Hamel died in 1870 the studies would have taken place before Huot was sixteen years old, not necessarily unlikely since all sources note that Huot’s artistic talents were noticed by many and encouraged from the time he was very young.
5. Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes have their own pages in AskART.
6. Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references) notes: Huot belonged to the Societe des Artists de Quebec. None of our other sources mentions Huot belonging to any artist association.
“Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Volume XV, 1921 – 1930” (2005), edited by Ramsay Cook (see AskART book references)
“Biographical Index of Artists in Canada” (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)
“A National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s – 1930s” (2002), by Marylin Jean McKay (see AskART book references)
"The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)
“Art and Architecture in Canada” (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)
“Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970” (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
"Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979" (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
“Charles Huot” (1979), by Jean-René Ostiguy (see AskART book references)
“Landscape Painting in Quebec (1800 – 1940)” (1978), by Claude Thibault (see AskART book references)
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)
“A Concise History of Canadian Painting” (1973), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)
“Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts” (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)
“Early Painters and Engravers in Canada” (1970), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)
"Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art" (1967), by R.H. Hubbard and J.R. Ostiguy (see AskART book references)
“Painting in Canada: a history” (1966), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)
“The Development of Canadian Art” (1964), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)
“The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III” (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)
“Canadian Art - Its Origin and Development” (1943), by William Colgate (see AskART book references)
“The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue” (1931), by the National Gallery of Canada (see AskART book references)
"The Fine Arts in Canada" (1925), by Newton MacTavish (see AskART book references)
The Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture, University of Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
The Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.
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