Having matured as an artist while in the Navy during World War II, Eric Riordon enjoyed only three years of production at the height of his ability. Following his discharge from the Navy he built a house on a hilltop in the Laurentians where he painted many of his finest paintings, such as Morning Sunlight, Laurentians. Riordon was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1946 and died only two years later in 1948 at the young age of 42.
Riordon was born in St. Catherines, Ontario and moved with his family to Montreal in 1908. He studied at Ashbury College in Ottawa, then McGill university. After studying charcoal drawing for a year at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, he went to Paris in 1932 to pursue his art studies at the prestigious Académie Julian and Grande Chaumière. Riordon travelled and painted extensively throughout Europe and his work was shown at the Paris Salon, 1933-1934.
Returning to Montreal, he painted in the Laurentians where he had spent many summers of his youth at the Riordon family cottage north of Mont Tremblant at Lac Caché. During the thirties, he became known for his fine Laurentian landscapes. He held his first official solo show at the Continental Galleries in October, 1935. He also became known for his seascapes, beach, harbour and river scenes - having found his subjects in Brittany, France and elsewhere in Europe as well as in North America along the St. Lawrence, in Gaspésie, Nova Scotia, Maine and elsewhere in the United States.
His love of the sea prompted him to join the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1940, at the outbreak of World War II, taking a seven month training course to become Lieutenant. He served as executive officer in Montreal before being posted to the east coast for sea duty where he was promoted to second-in-command of a naval corvette engaged in anti-submarine and convoy duty. At the end of the war, he held the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve.
He snatched moments from his duties during this period to paint a series of wartime naval scenes, which were later used in a publication about the Canadian Navy at war. Thirty four of his miniature naval scenes depicting a typical trans-Atlantic convoy manoeuvre during the Battle of the Atlantic were exhibited across Canada. Following his discharge from the Navy, Riordon built a house on a hilltop where he painted many more of his Laurentian scenes. He was elected A.R.C.A. in 1946 and exhibited with the Academy from 1937 until his death. After having seen an exhibition of his work in 1939, the art critic, St. George Burgoyne, noted:
"He is especially happy when painting winter scenes where hills cast shadows across lonely valleys and the setting sun strokes the distant ridges. His landscapes at all seasons do not lack human interest - skiers score the snow, men chop wood for hungry stoves, a horse and wagon climb a country road, and where the landscape is white the smoking chimney of a country cottage hints at presence, shelter and warmth."
Galerie Continentale, Montréal: 1934-1941, 1948
Galerie Malloney, Toronto: 1939, 1940
Peintures de la Bataille de l'Atlantique, Exhibition travelling across Canada, 1950-1952