Georges Chavignaud

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Born in Finistère, near Brest, France, his father was an author, musician and collector. As a boy he watched Corot paint and later was influenced by his work. He was educated at the Collège Charlemagne, Paris. He learned the art of black and white under Jakob Smits in Paris and painting in Antwerp under Verheyden. He became an admirer of French Impressionism and in his own work strove for poetical expression. He came to Toronto in 1884 and worked as an art director for a Canadian publishing firm which later failed. Convalescing from an illness he met and married a Canadian girl in Brantford. He travelled with his wife to Belgium in 1904 and other parts of Europe where he painted and studied. He became a proficient water colourist and his work received praise from King Leopold of Belgium. He was elected member of the Society of Water Colour Painters of Belgium. He found much of his subject matter in Belgium, Holland, and France. He was partial to scenes with windmills and expansive skies. He returned to Canada in 1904. In 1909 his large canvas Fishing Boats, Heyst-sur-Mer was purchased by the Ontario Government from the 37th Annual O.S.A. show for the Department of Education and was hung in the Ottawa Normal School. Later the painting was returned to Queen's Park. In 1912 in Toronto he became a founding member of the short-lived Associated Watercolour Painters. He moved to the Maritimes where he was Principal of the Victoria School of Art & Design, Halifax (1912-1916). He lived in Toronto (1884-1902); Meadowvale, Ont. (1905-09); Lambton Mills (1910-12); Kleinburg (1918- c.1929). In Canada he painted in Meadowvale, west of Toronto; Ile d'Orléans, Que.; Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Much of his work was done in water colours but later he also painted in oils with considerable success. A traditionalist he was offended by the work of the Group of Seven and resigned from the OSA in protest to their work being shown. He was a regular contributor to the RCA annual shows from 1901 to 1918. He died at Meadowvale, Ontario, at the age of 79. He is represented in the NGC by a large water colour scene with a windmill, And the Sun Set in the Mists (1912).

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada