Summer Day, Ste. Rose Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Oil On Canvas
14.5 × 19 inches
36.8 × 48.3 cm
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This intimate oil canvas of a rural scene in Fortin's home town of Ste. Rose, Quebec, depicts rustic houses, stacked wood and quilts airing in the summer sun. Cumulus clouds rise behind tall, leafy trees. Fortin's work is known for its brilliant colours, black stylized outlines and unique impressionist brush work. It was after a short trip to England and France in 1920 that Fortin began to work seriously as a painter and to show his work, which included scenes of the island of Montreal, largely rural at the time, and of his birthplace Sainte-Rose, north of the island. In the summers, he traveled to Quebec City, the Île d'Orléans and Charlevoix, drawing and painting houses and rural scenes. Between 1923 and 1926, he painted many of his celebrated tree scenes. In 1928, critic Jean Chauvin dedicated a chapter of Ateliers, his book on Canadian artists, to Fortin, comparing him to "a magician conjuring up, out of the earth, out of his palette, giant trees, extravagant skies, a whole enchanted nature..." Fortin commented that "Canadian artists should take their inspiration from the countryside and progress towards a national art... We should excel in landscapes, exactly as the French do". Fortin studied in Montreal under Ludger Larose and Edmond Dyonnet, and under Edward J. Timmons at the Art Institute of Chicago. There, he discovered the works of Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet and Mary Cassat, as well as those of the British painters Frank Brangwyn and Sir Alfred East. Fortin returned to France for a year between 1934 and 1935, traveling around the country, drawing and painting. Upon his return to Canada, he moved to Sainte-Rose and started experimenting with the application of pure colours onto a black surface, achieving luminous, brilliant colour. Later, he used a similar approach with a grey surface. Starting in the late 1930s, Fortin made painting trips to the Gaspé region, where he met Alexandre Bercovitch. Around this time, he experimented in watercolour highlighted with black pencil or pastel, and in the 1950s, painted in casein.

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