Rue Des Petits Degres Saint-Malo by Clarence Gagnon

Ink Etching
8.5 × 4.5 inches
21.6 × 11.4 cm
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About the Work

Rue des Petits Degres is a short, stepped alleyway in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. In this monochrome black/sepia etching of the ancient street, a cat in a doorway and four figures mark the receding perspective up the stairs towards the distant smoking chimneys of this city in 1907. Clarence Alphonse Gagnon, R.C.A., was a French Canadian painter, engraver and illustrator well known for his book illustrations and landscape paintings of eastern Quebec. Gagnon trained and maintained a studio in Paris for much of his career and met and sketched with other Canadian painters including James Wilson Maurice. Before and after WWI, Gagnon moved between Canada, France, and Norway. In 1923, Gagnon received the Trevor Prize of the Salmagundi Club of New York. Between 1924 and 1936, Gagnon spent time in Paris and traveled throughout Europe. It was during this period that he illustrated a number of books, including Rouquette’s Le grand silence blanc (1929) and the deluxe edition of Louis Hémon’s Maria Chapdelaine (1933), a story that celebrated Canadian frontier life. Upon his return to Quebec in 1936, the Université de Montréal awarded him an honorary doctorate. “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.” - Clarence Gagnon, 1931 Gagnon’s work can be found in many major institutions across Canada including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.