René Richard was born December 1st, 1895 in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. |
He arrived in Canada with his family in 1909. They lived in Montreal for two years then moved to Cold Lake, Alberta, where his father opened a general store and trading post. Richard developed a liking for the bush life and the Canadian wilderness and became a fur trapper. During his expeditions through Northern Canada he kept sketching and drawing and got to know the land, its inhabitants and their lifestyle.
Richard wanted to go to art school, and in 1927, he left for Paris. There he took lessons at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi, from 1927 to 1930. While in Paris he met Clarence Gagnon and the two became great friends. Gagnon encouraged him to become a full-time artist. In 1930 he left France and returned to Alberta, where he resumed his life as a trapper and made hundreds of drawings on craft paper.
Between 1938 and 1942, René Richard visited the regions of Ile d'Orleans, Gaspé, Charlevoix, Mauricie and Abitibi. In 1942, he got married to Blanche Cimon and settled definitely in Baie St-Paul, where the sceneries reminded him of Switzerland and some parts of the Great Canadian North. He dedicated most of his time to painting and exhibited regularly in Quebec City and Montreal. In 1952 went on an expedition in the Ungava region in Northern Quebec.
In 1973, he received the Order of Canada and became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1980. A retrospective show was held at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in 1967 and 1978 and a stamp0 commemorating Canada Day was made from one of his works ion 1982.
He died in Baie St-Paul at the age of 86.