August 26, 2009

Canada seen by Clarence Gagnon

In the early thirties, Clarence Gagnon (1881-1942), who grew up in rural Quebec, undertook an ambitious project: an illustration of the novel by Louis Hemon, Maria Chapdelaine, the flagship title of Franco-Canadian literature. It took more than five years to complete this command which contains 54 gouaches. The criticism is unanimously dithyrambic and Gagnon is recognized as a major Canadian painters. Trained at the Académie Julian, the painter who lived many years in Paris, explained in 1931: "It was not the over-sensitivity of the misunderstood that made me move to Paris....Over there, I paint only Canadian subjects, I dream only of Canada. The motif remains fixed in my mind, and I don't allow myself to be captivated by the charms of a new landscape. In Switzerland, Scandinavia-everywhere, I recall my French Canada."

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Gagnon (Clarence) - Hémon (Louis). Maria Chapdelaine. Illustrations de Clarence Gagnon. Paris, Editions Mornay, 1933, in-4, illustrated cover. Edition with 54 illustrations, in colours, by Clarence Gagnon. Copy on Rives paper.