Louis de Niverville
Interior

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1976 lower right; unframed
80 x 96.25 ins ( 203.2 x 244.5 cms )

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Provenance:
Private Collection, Ontario
When Louis de Niverville was six years old, he entered a hospital for spinal tuberculosis and remained there for nearly five years. In this grey, sterile environment, he compensated by creating an imaginary world formed partially from looking at the world outside the hospital windows, partially from cut-outs from the weekend paper. He did not forget this experience in later years, when he discovered visual art, particularly the work of Saul Steinberg, Matisse and Picasso, and it gave his work an “edge” that characterizes his later work. When he first came to Toronto, in 1957, he worked freelance for the art department of Maclean`s, then for the CBC with Graham Coughtry and Dennis Burton. A commission for Toronto International Airport, then one for Expo Theatre in Montreal started him on his real path as an artist.

“My work often starts with one very small idea, an impulse…I just play around” with ideas that develop, de Niverville says of his working process. For this mammoth major painting, commissioned by a couple in Montreal, de Niverville liked the idea of the couple living together, but separately so that the woman stands on a lavender couch looking at the man with admiration, the man stands in a thoughtful pose on a black sofa. The pet beside the woman adds to the atmosphere surrounding the couple in which light particles seem to float through the air. The fence behind them does not close them in, but adds an airy quality so that the couple seems to be in a garden pavilion. ‘It pushes the things back,” de Niverville said when he used a fence in a 1972 painting of a lady and animals, adding that the fence in that picture made the scene look like ‘a zoo.’ Here, the fence has a very different purpose. It adds to the quality of the couple`s love for each other, which occurs in an enclosed, but beautiful, timeless space.

In painting Interior, de Niverville worked with an airbrush because it seemed to suit the subject. It lends the painting a delicacy and softness that enhances the story.

We extend our gratitude to Canadian art historian, Joan Murray, for contributing the preceding essay.
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Louis de Niverville
(1933 - 2019) R.C.A.