Clarence Gagnon R.C.A.

Vue des Jardins Publics, Venice, c. 1905

oil on board
6.25x9 in.

Certified to verso by Lucile Rodier Gagnon, Gagnon Inventory no. 417, 1946

Collector’s Gallery, Montreal, 1971;
Private estate, Winnipeg;
Sale of Heffel Fine Art, May 28, 2014, lot 127;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary;
Private collection, Calgary;
Private collection

In the spring of 1905, Clarene Gagnon and his friend Edward Boyd would travel to Italy, where they would spend most of their time in Venice. Their trip was on the heels of an expensive autumn stay in France, in which Gagnon had struggled to find models with his limited income, and in which he “felt that he was not accomplishing very much”. Venice, it seems, was much more productive. According to Gagnon’s biographer, Rene Boissay, he returned from his trip with four panels and ten engravings.

Vue de Jardins Publics, Venice is possibly one of these four panels that Boissay references. Gagnon added the finishing touches to the fourteen Venice works in his studio in France that winter.
Pictured in the panel is mostly likely the pathway that wraps around The Biennale Gardens, the Viale Giardini Pubblici. Gagnon also produced an etching of these gardens, in the collection of the
National Gallery of Canada. Boissay notes Gagnon’s Japanese influence, particularly notable in his etchings. We can see this in Vue de Jardins Publics in the positioning and details of the tree, arching
over the top from the right of the panel, as is a tradition held in the long history of Japanese printmaking.

Clarence Gagnon is best known for his rural Quebec landscape paintings and the illustrations for Louise Hémon’s novel Maria Chapdelaine. Gagnon was also an award winning printmaker, a passionate outdoorsman, and an active promoter of Quebec handicrafts. Clarence Gagnon was born in a small village in rural Quebec. Although he…