1869 - 1937
La fille du pionnier
oil on canvas on board
signed and dated 1911 and on verso inscribed "43999" and "Appartient à Suzor-Coté studio" on the 1929 École des beaux-arts de Montréal exhibition label
29 x 24 in, 73.7 x 61 cm
Estimate: $125,000 - $175,000 CAD
Canadian Artists Galleries (A.B. Watson)
Walter M. Kearns Salesrooms, Montreal, December 5 - 6, 1941, lot 145
S.J. Mendelson, Montreal
Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's / Ritchie's, May 30, 2005, lot 111
Private Collection, Toronto
Private Collection, Quebec
“Mr. Suzor-Cote’s Exhibition,” Montreal Daily Star, March 30, 1912, page 14
“Much Good Work at R.C.A. Exhibition,” Gazette (Montreal), November 21, 1913, page 5
“Versatility Marks Show of Art Works,” Gazette, November 21, 1927, page 5
“Suzor-Cote’s Work in Rich Profusion,” Gazette, December 4, 1929, page 6
“Work by Suzor-Cote at the Arts Club,” Gazette, November 30, 1940, page 19
"Works by Suzor-Cote Auctioned Tonight,” Gazette, December 6, 1941, page 12
Michael Ballantyne, “Suzor-Coté Retrospective,” Montreal Star, Entertainment Supplement, December 12, 1964, reproduced page 12
Hughes de Jouvancourt, Suzor-Coté, 1967, reproduced page 51
Jean-René Ostiguy, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, 1978, mentioned page 22
Laurier Lacroix, Suzor-Coté: Light and Matter, National Gallery of Canada and Musée du Québec, 2002, reproduced page 247 and listed page 342
William Scott & Sons Gallery, Montreal, March 1912, catalogue #24
Art Association of Montreal, 35th Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Exhibition, Montreal, November 21 - December 20, 1913, catalogue #292
Winnipeg Industrial Bureau, 4th Special Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Exhibition, January 1914, catalogue #132
École des beaux-arts de Montréal, Rétrospective Suzor-Coté, December 3 - 20, 1929, catalogue #28
The Arts Club, Montreal, November 30, 1940
Galerie l'art vivant, Montreal, Rétrospective Suzor-Coté, December 2 - 31, 1964, catalogue #5
North York Public Library, Toronto, July - September 1965
Edward P. Taylor Reference Library & Audio-Visual Center, Toronto, October 17, 1983 - February 26, 1984
Musée du Québec, Quebec City, Suzor-Coté: Light and Matter, October 10, 2002 - January 5, 2003, traveling in 2003 to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
In 1908, Marc-Aurèle Suzor-Coté returned from Paris and continued his experimental approach to painting. His explorations in colour, space and pictorial matter were unique in Canadian painting at the time. Critics were astonished at how he combined these visual innovations with landscapes and rural subjects. The artist drew inspiration from his hometown of Arthabaska, painting its winter scenes, river views and portraits of its inhabitants.
The painting La fille du pionnier combines the portrait of a young peasant with the details of a mosaic-like landscape. The figure of the young woman stands out in the foreground. While her bust in profile occupies a relatively understated space on the canvas, despite her red garment, her face is turned towards the viewer, becoming the central element of the painting. The striped shawl covering her head isolates her face, which appears to float above her small frame. She is a romantic presence in this evocative space created by the layering of different textures.
The spatial layout of this composition places the figure atop the background with no transition. This way of structuring the pictorial space, by closely linking the model to her environment, heralds some of the portrait work of Prudence Heward or Edwin Holgate. Suzor-Coté made a series of works featuring a young woman in an outdoor setting, including Pastourelle à Vallangoujard (Seine-et-Oise) (1899), collection of Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, and Jeunesse et soleil (1913), collection of the National Gallery of Canada. Here, however, the near to square shape of the canvas imposes a different structure.
The landscape is rendered through bands of colour arranged at slight diagonals, lending a dynamic energy to the image. These layers are then set off by dabs of colour in different shapes and sizes that accentuate the stratification of the sections, where greens and turquoise alternate with browns and purplish oranges. The bluish tones of the woman’s shawl, moving from light to dark, are echoed in the horizon line and the sky. A band intersecting the middle of the landscape appears to be a body of water, gently mirroring the upper portion of the scene. This abstracted, suggested landscape serves as a counterpoint to the more sharply contoured figure, painted with parallel brush-strokes that become nearly invisible in her vibrant, luminous complexion.
The artist’s vantage point from slightly above raises the horizon line and highlights the young woman’s charming expression and pleasing, well-defined features. Suzor-Coté’s painting cultivates the art of seduction. Not only does his fresh and innocent subject shyly engage the viewer, but his rich palette, lively brushwork and original composition add to the pleasure in contemplating this painting.
We thank Laurier Lacroix, author of Suzor-Coté: Light and Matter, for contributing the above essay, translated from the French.
Please note: thoughout its extensive exhibition history, this work has also been referred to as La fille du fermier / The Settler's Daughter / The Farmer's Daughter / The Pioneer's Daughter / The Tiller's Daughter.
Estimate: $125,000 - $175,000 CAD
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