René Richard is a Swiss-born Canadian painter born in 1895. At the age of 11, his family moved to Western Canada, Cold Lake, Alberta. The call of the nomadic life comes early in the life of the young Richard who then undertakes to learn the trade of trapper. After several trips to the north-west of the country, he decided to leave for France in 1927 to acquire bases for drawing and painting.
It's in the City of Light that the painter meets Clarence Gagnon who takes him under his wing and completes his artistic education by encouraging him to visit a museum and paint in the streets and French countryside. After a stay in Savoy, the painter returned to Canada in 1930 and returned to his nomadic life, but this time, the northern regions will be observed under an artistic eye. He pochades on the pattern and stores a lot of mental images that will be used later in the creation of his Scenes of the North (1950-1955).
In 1938, he accepted the invitation of his friend Clarence Gagnon and joined him in Montreal. During the same year, René Richard helped Clarence Gagnon catalog the works of the late Horatio Walker, a painter on Île d'Orléans. He meets the Cimon family who, like Clarence Gagnon, welcome René Richard summers where he can paint and help the family in various works. In 1942, he settled permanently in the Cimon estate and began the most important period of his artistic career.
The year 1943 is marked by the first exhibitions of the painter in Montreal at the gallery of French art and then the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery. Now established and known, René Richard is invited by the government to make exploration missions as a consultant in the Far North. The decade of the 1940s is also an important milestone in the career of the artist, because he experimented with several mediums and techniques to develop his visual invoice that is so unique. It is aboard his boat, Le Solitaire, that the artist begins to tour painting and drawing on the St. Lawrence River and discovers landscapes that will become the subject of many of his works.
From 1948 to 1951, René Richard made two trips to the Great North with biologists Duncan Hodgson (1948) and Jacques Rousseau (1951). On his return, the painter begins a production of works on the theme of the Ungava. This one is inspired not only by the landscapes contemplated during its excursions in the Great North, but also by its most recent canoe-camping excursions on Rivière-Malbaie.
René Richard was a close friend of Canadian author Gabrielle Roy, and was inspired by one of his novels, La Montagne Secrète. Another remarkable friendship in the life of the painter Richard will be with the writer Félix-Antoine Savard author of the famous novel Menaud Maître Draveur
Until the end of his life, René Richard's house is a meeting place for Quebec artists. Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Albert Rousseau and several other renowned painters meet there to discuss art and listen to the former trapper tell the episodes of his past nomadic lifestyle.
Classified as a heritage site shortly before his death, Maison René-Richard is today a museum open to the public.
René Richard died in Baie St-Paul on March 31, 1982, at the age of 86.
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