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René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Le Vieux Trading-Post, circa 1943
SOLD
 
Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
 
 
 
RENÉ RICHARD, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Le Vieux Trading-Post, circa 1943
Oil on panel 25 5/8" x 31 1/4"
Inscribed on plaque: "LE VIEUX TRADING-POST (C. 1943) Territoire du Nord-Ouest"
 
 
 
Provenance
The family of René Richard, by descent.
 
Exhibited
Galerie l'Art Français, ca. 1946
 
 
   
  More about this painting  
   
 
The René Richard painting, The Old Trading Post, Northwest Territories (Nunavut), is testimony to Richard’s first hand appreciation of the Canadian north. “His style is clean and firm, his brushstrokes harsh and true,” wrote Clarence Gagnon of his protégé. He is a genuinely original Canadian artist of his generation painting a region he had experienced as a woodsman and trapper, not only as an observer as had some of his contemporaries. It is not to be forgotten that Richard’s introduction to the Canadian west and subsequently trapping emanates from the family relocation from Montreal to Cold Lake, Alberta where his father opened a trading post.

René Richard: Tom Thomson of the North

“[Richard] knows what he wants to do and his love for the wild will make another Tom Thomson of him ...There is not a Canadian artist, dead or living, who has drawn or can draw in 5 minute sketches to compare with those of Richard,” wrote Clarence Gagnon to Eric Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Canada from Paris on March 14, 1928. .

Richard’s œuvre is in part a first-hand description of the life of a Canadian trapper traveling by canoe, on foot or dog sled in the wildernesses of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and later in Quebec. His work is a significant contribution to the western Canadian narrative and is, as far as we are aware, one not previously described professionally in paint by an actual trapper, a trade heralded in the history of the development of Canada. Richard has long enjoyed iconic stature in Quebec but his significant ethnographic works of quality are also relevant to a Canada-wide audience, making him a painter of national historical importance.

In 1909, Richard emigrated with his parents to Canada from Switzerland. After two years in Montreal, the family moved to the remote and isolated area of Cold Lake, Alberta, where his father operated a trading post, selling supplies to indigenous peoples in the region and receiving furs as payment. The exposure to life in the great outdoors seduced Richard in his early teens. He spent the better part of 16 years as a trapper in Western Canada and the plein-air sketches he made during his wilderness expeditions would provide him with lifelong inspiration. His drawings of this period depict the unique experiences of the Canadian trapper and woodsman, of abandoned camps, the woodsman’s canoe, the burning campfire, the trapper`s sled dogs, and the occasional glimpses of the camaraderie between trappers.



From 1927 and with Clarence Gagnon’s encouragement, Richard, nicknamed “Slim,”, spent three years studying art in Paris where he honed his draughtsmanship and used Gagnon’s studio (his confidently executed drawings post-1930 are of especially fine quality). In 1928, Clarence Gagnon wrote to Eric Brown, the first Director of the National Gallery of Canada:

He will become a greater artist than Tom Thomson. He ignored the art schools, because after a month here, he could draw better than any of the masters who were teaching him. [...]The “call of the wild” is getting the best of him, and he has made up his mind to return to the Barren Lands where he came from, to resume his trapper’s life and to paint what he had been dreaming of for years up in the Delta of the Mackenzie. [...] I’ll be damn mistaken if he doesn’t turn out a greater artist than Tom Thomson, I wish you will keep in touch with him so that we may see some of his things on exhibition.

Richard returned to Western Canada to paint, but the Depression forced him to seek once again a livelihood in trapping. In 1938, he joined Gagnon in Montreal but soon escaped the city to settle in Baie-Saint-Paul, purchased the former home of Clarence Gagnon in 1940 and devoted himself to painting, leaving charcoal and pastels to paint primarily in oils. In an interview in La Presse in Montreal in 1963, Richard describes this period:

I settled down in Baie-St-Paul in 1940. [...] Clarence Gagnon came to visit and then lived there for 14 years! Me? I will never leave that area. The North Shore, it’s a beautiful country. We are surrounded by forests. We live on the Gouffre River. There are marvelous areas. The Laurentide Park is not far away above, the Saguenay, it’s close, the river, the country roads in the middle of the forest. Now, I always work, but more calmly.

His landscapes from this period, rarely titled or, if so, with generic titles like “Encampement indien”, are often misconstrued as Quebec vistas. In fact however, he regularly used as reference the fine drawings of his earlier trapping days in the 1930s in Western Canadian, areas including the Churchill River, Fort McMurray and Jasper regions. Of course, his legacy also boasts a strong and extensive body of work depicting the Charlevoix area where he delighted in the landscapes of Ungava, the Saguenay River, and the Quebec North Shore.



René Richard as artist and trapper was further mythologised by Manitoba-born novelist Gabrielle Roy who was Richard’s friend and neighbour in Charlevoix. She modeled Pierre Cadorai, the protagonist of her acclaimed novel La Montagne Secrète (1962), on René Richard, hailing the legendary figure he embodied and illustrating the nature of the artist’s quest for creativity, the patient search for meaning in art and in life. Roy portrays the painter’s nomadic and solitary years surrounded by nature, sometimes friendly and often inhospitable, his rare encounters with others in the mythic landscapes of the Great Canadian North, and the slow mastery of his art.

He returns from his outings with pochades he sets forth with a kind of wild impetuosity. […] If René Richard incorporated as a person the distress of a human forced to live through winters all alone at the end of the world, he is also the one who translated the joy of one solitary person meeting another. […] One day I noticed that when he returned from his outings, René Richard referred to the paintings he brought back as “catches” or something he “captured”. He would say, for example: “Today I picked up four pochades”.
Gabrielle Roy (translated by Galerie Alan Klinkhoff)


Unlike Jean-Paul Lemieux and many other post-world-war II artists, René Richard, living in Baie-St-Paul, offered his paintings through galleries only as far as away as Montreal, relegating him to anonymity outside of Québec. He is however a first-tier artist of national importance and will one day be recognized from coast to coast. René Richard paintings are extraordinary “value” purchases at this time: paintings of integrity, quality and originality. We encourage your purchase of “The Old Trading Post, Northwest Territories.”.

Alan Klinkhoff
April 2017
 
   
 
 René Richard Biography 
 
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.


 
   
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René Richard paintings sold
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Île de Vancouver, 1964
Oil on panel 10 " x 12 " (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Hauteur de Baie-Saint-Paul
Oil on masonite 13" x 15" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
The old house Dufour, Baie St. Paul
Oil on masonite 24" x 28" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Laurentian Park
Oil on panel 12" x 16" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Trappers and Dogs at Rest in the Forest, c. 1955
Oil on masonite 41" x 48" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Trapper and Trail Companions
Oil on masonite 30" x 32 1/2" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
René Richard's House in Baie St. Paul
Oil on masonite 18" x 24 1/8" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
The Old Trapper, c. 1960
Oil on masonite 28" x 31" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
North of Forestville, 1951
Oil on masonite 28" x 30" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Old Trapper Up North, 1955
Oil on masonite 18" x 12" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Trapper with Dogsled
Oil on masonite 32" x 33 3/4" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Indian Encampment
Oil on masonite 41" x 48" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
Charlevoix County, Road to Baie St Paul
Oil on board 12" x 16" (Sold)
Detailed view
  René Richard - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
René Richard, R.C.A. (1895-1982)
By the Sea, Cap aux oies
Oil on masonite 22" x 32" (Sold)
Detailed view
 
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