oil on canvas
signed; also signed and inscribed “Painting” on the reverse
21 ins x 25.75 ins; 61.6 cms x 64.8 cms
Dallaire’s love affair with France began early in his artistic career when, following one of the first showings of his works in 1938, he departed for studies at the Atelier d’art sacré and l’Académie André Lhote. While in Paris, Dallaire was confronted by Cubism and Surrealism in the works of painters such as Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. These styles would go on to influence Dallaire’s oeuvre, amalgamating with the artist’s sensible, working-class beginnings to culminate in a humanistic approach to modernism.
In contrast to the often impersonal qualities of these modern styles, Dallaire’s works are festive and highly personal. Dallaire used the strategies of abstraction to feel liberated in his work: transforming highly schematized forms into rich and animated representations.
Michèle Grandbois writes, “Dans la nature luxuriante qui baigne des scènes aux couleurs chatoyantes, la douceur de vivre s'empare des hommes et des femmes, d'ici et d'ailleurs, d'un autre siècle très certainement.”
This painting bears a strong resemblance to still lifes which we know the artist to have executed during his time in Vence, France, where he lived from 1959 until his passing in 1965. Comparisons indicate that the work was most likely painted during the later portion of this timeframe. The work was entered into the Dominion Gallery inventory books in 1964, alongside fifty-five other Dallaire works that came into the gallery between November 1963 and August 1965. Given the gallery’s contract system, which provided monthly payments to artists in exchange for an agreed upon number of works, one may speculate that this painting was acquired by Max Stern directly from Dallaire himself.
Inspired by the light, the plentifulness, and the colours of the Mediterranean, there is a spontaneity and an edginess to this still life which evokes both Cézanne and Braque.
“À Vence,” says Grandbois, “Jean Dallaire s'abandonne entièrement au ludisme de la couleur, de la ligne et de la texture…"
Guy Robert, Dallaire, Éditions France-Amérique, Montreal, 1980, page 111.
Michèle Grandbois, Dallaire (catalogue), Musée du Québec, Quebec, 1999, page 114 and 151.
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Private Collection, Ontario