NICHOLAS DE GRANDMAISON, R.C.A.
Private Collection, Ontario
When Nicholas de Grandmaison (1892-1978) was rendering his masterful and popular portraits of Native peoples in pastel and oil, it is easy to forget that photography was a well-established medium for this genre. Indeed, Yousuf Karsh’s Faces of Destiny was published in 1947 which makes the two artists contemporaries. Both artists tried to capture something of the unique character of their sitter though both ultimately and even inadvertently provide a documentary record of a generation.
The impact of photography on traditional painted portraiture was significant. While commissioned portraits declined, paradoxically this liberated de Grandmaison who could now choose who to paint and how. De Grandmaison’s skill in capturing the majesty of his native subjects, often adorned with the regalia of their position, has timeless appeal as these works continue to be assiduously acquired as are the diminutive pastels of charming little children, like this lot, for which he is equally well-known.