CLARENCE ALPHONSE GAGNON, R.C.A.
CRÉPUSCULE - D’HIVER, QUÉBEC
oil on panel
4.75 ins x 7 ins; 12.7 cms x 17.8 cms
Clarence Gagnon (1881-1942) spent a good deal of his artistic life abroad – in France, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Italy. However, according to Hélène Sicotte, he “felt compelled to see himself in terms of his homeland” and in particular the undulating hills of his beloved Charlevoix County from which he drew his greatest inspiration, especially when it lay covered in a blanket of snow during the winter season. “This”, Sicotte notes, “was the landscape that would define him.”
Sicotte, who could be referring to this very lot, continues: “ …Gagnon’s painting is marked by an energetic touch and a palette of pure colours applied in dramatic warm-cold contrasts of complementary tones. In Charlevoix County the artist found vistas where cultivated areas, transformed by close to three centuries of human occupation, alternated with stretches of wilderness. His painter’s eye became entirely absorbed by this mountainous countryside, whose dynamism seemed to resonate with his own personality. Its picturesque villages and brightly hued houses held immediate appeal for this dedicated colourist who saw the landscape genre essentially as an opportunity to achieve chromatic and formal harmony.”
With awesome economy, the painter uses here a classic combination of signature motifs - a gently curving road, flanked by peak-roofed habitant homes and a backdrop of snow-covered, sunlit hills. Though measuring a mere 4 3/4 by 7 inches, quite remarkably this croquis masterfully distills and concentrates a sweeping panorama of as many kilometres.
Hélène Sicotte and Michèle Grandbois, Clarence Gagnon, 1881-1942: Dreaming the Landscape, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Quebec, 2006, pages 95 and 116.
Antoine’s Art Gallery Inc., Montreal (acquired in 1967)
Private Collection, Montreal
Private Collection, Vancouver (by descent)