Gagnon Pochade is a Study for Canvas in the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
We are pleased to share with collectors a recently acquired pochade by Clarence Gagnon that is the study for the larger canvas is the collection of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, entitled Scène d'automne (Autumn Scene), 1907 (Oil on canvas, 46 x 65.4 cm [18 x 25 ¾ in.], Inventory No. 1949.85.).
Clarence A. Gagnon, R.C.A. 1881-1942
Sketch for "Scène d'automne / Autumn scene", 1906
Oil on panel, 11.4 x 17.8 cm (4 ½ x 7 in)
Clarence A. Gagnon, R.C.A. 1881-1942, Scène d'automne / Autumn scene, 1907, Oil on canvas, 46 x 65.4 cm (18 x 25 ¾ in), Collection of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Inventory No. 1949.85.
The extraordinary opportunity to be able to compare a sketch with its canvas reveals much about Gagnon’s artistic process. Compositionally, the principle elements of the pair are nearly identical. The same tall lush trees in both the sketch and the canvas are reflected in the glassy waters of their streams. These arboreal groupings on the left and right in each are divided by a small home that sits on brilliantly green lawn with a footpath that leads to the riverbank, set against a blue sky with scant, ragged clouds. Where the two works diverge is in elements of the artist’s palette. In our available pochade, the rooftops of the dwelling are composed with the similar reddish-purple plum colour found in the waters of its stream. From sketch to canvas, Gagnon has changed the shutters of the home from a vibrant purple to an equally lively green.
The majority of small format works in oil by Clarence Gagnon are unsigned, if for no other reason than because he did not offer them for sale during his lifetime. This one is legibly signed on the lower left, "Clarence A. Gagnon" and dated, "06." On the back of the panel, there is the ramenant of an old handwritten label with the partial address, “591 S. Cather[torn].” In January 1909, Gagnon and his first wife, Katherine, rented a spot on the sixth floor of King’s Hall 591 Sainte-Catherine Street West (this is now 1231 Ste Catherine St West, between Drummond and Mountain Streets) . The label notes a price of $20, suggesting that Gagnon had offered this sketch for sale, thereby explaining why it is signed.
The pochade bears a dedication that is dated “Feb 21. 1913”. To whom this dedication was made, we cannot decipher. According to the Chronology section of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s catalogue for the show Clarence Gagnon: Dreaming the Landscape, in early 1913, Gagnon was still in Canada, where he was commissioned to create a small decorative panel for the newly founded Arts Club . He and Katherine would leave for Europe in February 1913, stopping first in London before returning to his studio in March 1913 Paris .
Sketch for "Scène d'automne / Autumn scene", 1906 presents the extraordinary opportunity for collectors of Clarence Gagnon to purchase the partner of a canvas in one of Canada’s most prominent institutions, and at $12,000 represents outstanding value.
Sketch for "Scène d'automne / Autumn scene", 1906, Alan Klinkhoff Gallery
1. Hélène Sicotte, “A Canadian in Paris”, Clarence Gagnon: Dreaming the Landscape, (Québec: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, 2006), p. 319, footnote 25
2. Hélène Sicotte, Michèle Grandbois, et. al., “Chronology”, Clarence Gagnon: Dreaming the Landscape, (Québec: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, 2006), p. 336ff.