Artwork by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté,  Still Life with Pears

Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté
Still Life with Pears

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1897 lower right
12 x 20 ins ( 30.5 x 50.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$8,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $24,000.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal
Private Collection
“Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté”, Retrospective Exhibition, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal, 13-27 October 2018, no. 28
In his still lifes, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté was primarily interested in exploring the duality between the ideal representation of everyday subjects and the affirmation of the art of painting. The painterly qualities of his works reflect his experiments in both style and composition, which he undertook in the early 1890s as a promising young artist, like so many of his French-Canadian contemporaries who made the pilgrimage to Paris to further their artistic training.

Presenting a vibrant arrangement of squat, round pears set on a ledge against a sombre background, Suzor-Coté achieved the illusion of ripe fruits by juxtaposing yellow tones with a blush of orange and rendering the texture of wrinkled skin through freely applied brush strokes. As in many other paintings of the period, the artist scraped the pictorial layer to create texture and depth in the background before using his palette knife to trace the distinctive contours of the pears. While the illusion is mesmerizing from a distance, upon closer inspection, the paint takes on a life of its own. The viewer’s gaze finds itself inevitably drawn to the pearly white cut pieces at the right. It evokes the buttery texture and flavour of a freshly harvested fruit as if it had just recently been plucked from the leafy branch leaning against the ledge.

While Suzor-Coté’s still lifes, ranging from trophy game to floral arrangements, offer faithfully replicated inanimate objects, they also appeal to the viewer’s senses beyond sight, inviting contemplation through sensory perception. Ultimately, by adopting an intense palette of colours and rich textures, the artist emphasizes the ability of art to give the illusion of reality, thus breathing life within simple and often overlooked subjects.

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Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté
(1869 - 1937) RCA

Suzor-Coté was born in 1869 in the village of Arthabaska, Quebec. Although the young Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté excelled in both musical and artistic pursuits, his love of painting won precedence and he travelled to Paris in 1891 for three years of art studies at the École de beaux-arts. He returned to North America briefly, pursuing commission work, before returning to Europe for an extended period between 1897 and 1907.

By 1906 he had left behind the academic realism of his early work, developing instead a bold impressionistic style. Once back in Canada he found his greatest inspiration in the Canadian landscape itself. He painted landscape in a forceful impressionistic style which was unfamiliar to Canadian audiences of the time.

The multi-talented Suzor-Coté was also easily able to make the shift from painting to working in three dimensions. His bronzes were cast in New York at the Roman Bronze Works, and became sought after by collectors in Canada and the United States. Suzor-Coté won the Jessie Dow prize for best painting at the Art Association of Montreal in 1914 and again in 1925. By 1925, he had made a significant contribution to impressionism in Canada, influencing younger artists to paint the Canadian landscape in a new manner.