Lot #261

Adrien Hébert
Houses in a Landscape

oil on canvas
signed lower right
26.25 x 19.25 ins ( 66.7 x 48.9 cms )

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Provenance:
Private Collection, Toronto

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Adrien Hébert
(1890 - 1967) RCA

Born in Paris, France, the son of noted sculptor, Louis Philippe Hébert, he attended primary school in France while his father, a Canadian, was busy working on the bronze castings of his historical monuments. Adrien’s parents travelled between France and Montreal a number of times. In 1904 he was enrolled in the Monument National where he studied art under Joseph St. Charles, Edmond Dyonnet, Joseph Franchère, and Jobson Paradis. In 1907 he continued studies under William Brymner at the Art Association of Montreal where he remained until 1911. But he was still not certain that he wanted to be a painter.

At the age of 22 he accompanied his father to Paris where his father enrolled him in classes at the studio of Fernand Cormon, noted painter of historical and archeological subjects. His father hoped that in this noted painter’s studio his son would take a more serious approach to paintings as a career. But Adrien was not easily converted from his own inclinations and would spend his time along the Seine River observing the ships and general traffic often as a truant from Cormon’s classes.

Finally he discovered the works of Monet and Sisley and other Impressionists and painting took on a new meaning for him. He began to work in earnest and made visits to museums at Luxembourg and the Louvre in Paris (although he didn’t abandon his interest in ships, boats, locomotives, and the busy city streets).

He returned to Montreal in 1914 and was appointed by the Montreal Academic Commissions teacher of drawing in which capacity he served for 35 years. In 1924 he began to turn his attentions to the Port of Montreal although he made a trip to France the same year. He returned to France on several occasions but he finally made very firm ties in Montreal where he moved into a new workshop on Labelle Street. In 1930 he exhibited his work in Paris when ‘Le Journal Paris’ noted, “this realism possesses a poetry of its own and gives him soft tones in the sky and water. The pictures of Adrien Hébert are constructed and composed with real art.”

In 1932 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy. In 1936 an exhibition of 32 of his canvases was held at the Watson Art Galleries (later Dominion Galleries) and praised in ‘The Gazette’ and ‘La Presse’. It was in 1938 that Hébert was in an automobile-tram collision and almost lost the sight of his eye but under the skilfull care of his doctors his sight was not impaired. Hébert was elected full member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1941. During WWII he painted the huge locomotives undergoing repair at the C.P.R. Angus Shops. Hébert and R. W. Pilot exhibited their work jointly at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1949 where the exhibition were well-received.

In 1956 his paintings were exhibited at the Hélène-de-Champlain Restaurant under the sponsorship of the City of Montreal. The exhibition included paintings he had done between 1926 and 1956 and was, in a way, a tribute by the city to one who had devoted most of his life in revealing its beauty to the world. Dorothy Pfeiffer, on the occasion of his solo show at the Arts Club of Montreal in 1963 wrote that “…Adrien Hébert’s paintings appear to combine a certain Impressionist flavour wedded to a forthright Canadian approach to actuality. He appears as an especially gifted exponent of space and light. His varied canvases also bear witness to intense interest in the busy city life around him.”

Hébert died in 1967. He was a member of the Arts Club of Montreal for more than forty years. His work is included in the National Gallery of Canada, Le Hâvre Museum, France, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and others.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979