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 Rene Jean Richard  (1895 - 1982)

About: Rene Jean Richard
 

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Lived/Active: Quebec/Alberta / Canada/Switzerland      Known for: landscape, portrait, and genre painting, printmaking and drawing

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Ad Code: 3
Rene Richard
from Auction House Records.
ARTIST WITH HIS SLEDDING TEAM
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
René Richard was a painter, illustrator, printmaker, and fur trapper.  He was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and died in Baie St.Paul, Quebec (75 miles north-east of Quebec City along the St.Lawrence River).  His family emigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1909 and to Cold Lake, Alberta (150 miles north-east of Edmonton) in 1911.  In 1942, he moved to Baie St.Paul, Quebec where he lived the rest of his life.
 
His mediums were oil*, watercolour, gouache*, charcoal*, chalk*, ink*, crayon*, graphite*, lithograph*, etching*, silkscreen* and colored pencil*.  His most recognized subjects are landscapes of the Quebec countryside and northern Canada.  He is also known for portraits and genre scenes of his previous occupation as a trapper (c.1913 - 1942) in the Canadian north.  Good illustrations of this are AskART image examples Artist with his Sledding Team and Trappers in Forest.  His styles were Expressionism*, Fauvism* and Plein Air*, image examples Riverscape, Scene de Campagne and Paysage are good illustrations of his best-known style and subjects.
 
His formal art education began when he was 32 years old.  With money saved from fur trapping he went to Paris for three years (1927-1930).  He studied at Academie la Grande Chaumière* and Académie Colarossi*.  While there he became friends and a lifelong protégé of Clarence Gagnon (see AskART).  He also met and travelled with Tom Stone (see AskART).
 
His travels, while in Europe included other parts of France and Switzerland.  In Canada his trapping expeditions included canoe and dog sled trips through northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec (1923 - 1936).  He canoed down the Mackenzie River to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, along the Saskatchewan River to Lake Winnipeg and down the Churchill River to Hudson Bay.  His trapping also took him to the Rocky Mountains near Jasper, Alberta and to James Bay, Ontario.  He travelled to New York City in 1927 on his way to Paris, and to Louisiana in 1957 with his wife Blanche Cimon and the author Gabrielle Roy (see below).
 
Most of his lifetime exhibitions were at private galleries such as Galerie l'Art Francais, Montreal (1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1975, 1981), Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal (1964), Galerie Morency, Montreal (1964) and many more.  The Museum of Quebec (Quebec City) had solo shows of his work in 1967 and 1978, and Laval University (Montreal) had one in 1980.  He apparently did not join in many group exhibitions.  There is only a period from 1948 to 1950 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts noted by one source (1).
 
His works are avidly collected.  They are also in many art galleries and museums including the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), the Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, New Brunswick), the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and many more.  The Museum of Quebec (Quebec City) has 142 René Richard works in its collection.  The Canadian Heritage Information Network database shows a total of 399 Richard works in public galleries and museums across Canada.
 
Examples of his illustrations can be seen in the books La Montagne Secrete (The Secret Mountain) (1975 edition), by Gabrielle Roy and Menaud Maitre-Draveur (Menaud Master Driver) (1979 edition), by Felix-Antoine Savard. (2)
 
His honours and awards include one of the countries highest honours, appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada (CM) in 1973.  He was also elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1980, and his painting Along Great Slave Lake was reproduced on Canadian 30 cent stamps, to commemorate Canada Day in 1982.  There is also a library in Baie St.Paul and streets in Quebec City and Baie St.Paul named after him.
 
In 1992 La Musée des Beaux Arts, in his home town La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland had a major exhibition of his work.
 
 
Footnotes:
 
(1) Source: The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar.(see AskART book references)
 
(2) La Montagne Secrete, originally written in 1961, is a novel based on René Richard’s life; a line from the book, "Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?" is on the Canadian $20.00 bill between two images of sculptures by Bill Reid (see AskART).  Also, both authors were very important, both were awarded the Order of Canada, Roy CC and Savard OC, and both books were published several times before the Richard illustrated editions and several times after. Recent editions of La Montagne Secrete appear to still have Richard’s cover art. La Montagne Secrete was published in English with the title The Hidden Mountain;  Menaud Maitre-Draveur was published in English with the title Boss of the River.
 
 
 * 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

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in 1895 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

He arrived in Canada in 1909. He took his first lessons in painting and drawing in Edmonton. He went to Paris in France to study painting in 1927. During his stay, he met Clarence Gagnon who encouraged him to dedicate himself to painting.

René Richard came back to Canada in 1930 and start his life of trapping again. He brings back hundreds of drawings from his long trips. He lived in the wood for several years. He settled in Baie-St-Paul in 1942. He exhibited in Québec City and in Montréal several times. René Richard is a painter who like to capture the essence of the present and the power of nature. He passed away in 1981 at the age of 86 years old. He donated many of his works to the University Laval.

At the end of his life, he was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and in 1973, he received the Order of Canada. Canada Post used one of his work depicting the North-western territories in a series of stamps on Canadian art.

Collections: The National Gallery of Canada, Musée du Québec, and many other public and private collections across Canada.

Source:
Galerie d'Art du Château Frontenac

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