Stephen Snake was born on the Rama Reserve near Orillia, Ontario, in 1966. He began to draw as soon as he could hold a pencil and crayon. Stephen was cared for and supported by his mother, Carol, an artist in her own right—who along with her cousin Arthur Shilling recognized and encouraged Stephen to continue his art.
Arthur Shilling took Stephen under his wing and helped him refine his young raw talent. Shilling was the one who first exposed Stephen to the prolific works of Norval Morrisseau. Stephen’s family moved to Midland, Ontario where he continued to draw—but instead of his reserved pictures depicting everyday life, and legends passed down; it was grain elevators, and other similar subjects of everyday rural life. Tragically, Arthur Shilling passed away in 1986 from a heart ailment. Three years later Stephen held his first exhibition at The Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario.
In 1994, Stephen settled in the Bear Island Reserve on Lake Temagami. There, Stephen continues to live and paint. His works can be found in the David Bronfman Collection, as well as the Chamber of Commerce in Orillia, and the First Nations of Rama Bank office. His commissioned works include the portrait of Orillia’s mayor, and set design for the Roots and Wings Theatre Co. on Bear Island.
Michel Ciry born in La Baule, France on August 31, 1919 and died at Varengeville-sur-Mer, Normandy France on December 26, 2018. Ciry was singular figure in modern French culture. He was the composer of six symphonies for orchestra, mixed choir, and soloist. He published 36 volumes of memoirs. He was a master of the modern etching, who designed postage stamps and illustrated literary classics by authors ranging from Emily Bronte, Edgar Allen Poe to Franz Kafka. And if all these accomplishments were not enough, he painted portraits and landscapes of luminous simplicity. The extraordinary range of Ciry’s talent was not the only thing that sets him apart from his Western European contemporaries.
Ciry was a committed Christian whose art was largely devoted to sacred themes. He also chose to remain celibate, living in self-imposed exile from the Paris art scene for over fifty years on the seacoast of Normandy in Varengeville-sur-Mer, where a museum an extension of his house opened in 2012 to display works in his personal collection from a career spanning over seven decades.
A student at the Duperre School of Applied Arts in Paris from 1934 to 1937, Michel Ciry engraved his first copper in 1935 and made his debut at the “Artists of this Time” exhibition at the Petit Palais in 1938. He was appointed member of the Society of French Painters-Engravers in 1941. During the Occupation, he was part of the official milieu of artists close to the Vichy regime. Alongside his personal engraved work, he produced many illustrations for bibliophile editions. From the 1960s, he lived and worked in Normandy at Varengeville-sur-Mer.
Ciry has been described as an “artist of solitude.” who lived to be 99 years old. His figurative studies are testimony to the solitary life he lived. They are like lone actors on a stage empty of all but essential props, similarly, his paintings of ships and landscapes are barren.
His painting titled “L’Epave” 1959 of a ship barren on dry land is an example of his connection to loneliness and an emptiness within himself that he lived with. He created in 1963 an drypoint aquatint etching of the same nautical ship released in an edition of 120.
The record price for this artist at auction is $7,138 USD for “Arlequin à la Canne”, oil on canvas 63 3/4” x 38 1/4” sold at Millon Paris, December 2, 2017 – Lot 294.
Born in Latvia, Valleja (Wally) Strautin was a New York City-based portrait, landscape, mural, textile and geometric-based abstract artist who resided in Greenwich Village. She graduated in 1931 from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. Strautin was good friends and neighbours with Abstract Expressionist artists Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, who were highly influential. Though she produced portraits and murals, Strautin found her voice as a painter in a geometric-based abstraction. In conversation with Krasner, Strautin began experimenting with abstraction early in her career. Despite the fact that Strautin’s abstract canvases, were produced early on in her career, they exhibit a remarkable refinement that intimates an intense study of European modernism, The Harvard University Art Museum has a 1944 Christmas card in their collection (M26157.A-B) sent by Pollock and Krasner to “Mrs. Wally Strautin.”
Strautin exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists, founded in 1916 in New York, from 1929-1944. She was a member of the Union of American Artists and the Society of Independent Artists. In 1948, Strautin exhibited with the Spiral Group at the New School for Social Research in New York City, a short-lived abstract artists group that was active from the late 1940s through the 1950s. She is also credited as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist. In the 1930s, as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its WPA effort, the federal government hired more than 10,000 artists to create works of art across the country, in a wide variety of forms – murals, theatre, fine arts, music, writing, design, and more.
Eugene Henri Cauchois was born on the 14th of February 1850 at Rouen, in the Seine-Maritime region of Normandy in Northern France. He died on the 11th October 1911 in Paris. Cauchois is probably more famous for his floral Still lifes, although he did, on occasion, paint landscapes and seascapes.
In pursuance of an artistic career, he first began studying under Ferdinand Duboc. Cauchois debuted at the Salon of 1874 with Un Lapin (A Rabbit) beside which was placed a text by Victor Hugo which read, “Behold the unfortunate, recumbent, naked, miserable [animal], all covered with blood, redder than maple, during the flower season.” His placement of this quote next to his picture suggests that Cauchois was a supporter of the Romanticist movement, interesting in that he was working during a period in which Romanticism in painting had passed and new movements such as Impression were gaining momentum. By 1876, Cauchois had partially relocated to Asnières along the Seine, just outside of Paris.
Between 1878 and 1879 Cauchois took up residence in Brussels as well as Paris and exhibited two paintings at the, Fleurs (Flowers) and La Pièce de la Resistance (The Principal Dish). He remained in Brussels until at least 1883 and, at some point between 1883 and 1887, returned to Paris after spending nearly four years in Brussels. It cannot be estimated, however, to what point his time spent in Brussels influenced his work, since the whereabouts of much of his work is unknown.
What does remain of Cauchois’ work at present, and what he is most remembered for, are his flower arrangements, many often painted in a series of decorative panels meant to be seen side by side. Perhaps Cauchois was inspired by the vertical compositions and love of nature of Japanese paintings, since much of this period saw an increase in the appreciation in Japonisme and many artists began experimenting with new compositional formulas. It seems as if Cauchois’ more experimental work was exhibited at the Salons, while his other work, especially that of flower paintings, found a wide audience among collectors both during the late nineteenth century and into the twenty-first century.
Still lifes had been a long traditional subject throughout Europe and France was no exception. Even into the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, modern artists such as Édouard Manet and Vincent Van Gogh began working with still lifes, many of flowers. Cauchois’ soft, colorful and lustrous still lifes reflect a strong influence from the great Impressionist artists of his time. Similar to the Impressionists, his canvases are painted layer upon layer with loose and fluid brush strokes.
Carlo Maratta, also spelled Maratti, born May 15, 1625, Camerano, Papal States, Italy – died December 15, 1713, Rome, Italy, one of the leading painters of the Roman school in the later 17th century and one of the last great masters of Baroque classicism. His final works offer an early example of “arcadian good taste” (named for the Academy of Arcadians, of which he was a member), a style that was to dominate Roman art for the first half of the 18th century.
Maratta went early to Rome, where he studied. His reputation was established with his first public work, the Nativity (1650). A few years later he was noticed by Pope Alexander VII, and thereafter he secured an almost uninterrupted series of important commissions for altarpieces in Italian churches. He also executed a number of decorative ceiling frescoes in Roman palaces, the most important of which was for Pope Clement X in the Palazzo Altieri. Maratta painted with a clear and balanced composition that promotes papal clemency and Christian virtues. His critique of the style of Andrea Sacchi (1599 -1661) places him securely in the classical camp of Roman Baroque painting. Maratta was one of the most distinguished portrait painters in Italy during this period, and his portraits include one of Pope Clement IX.
In 1679 or 1680, a daughter, Faustina, was born to Maratta by his mistress, Francesca Gommi (or Gomma). He legally recognized her as his daughter in 1698 and upon becoming a widower in 1700, Maratta married the girl’s mother. His daughter’s features were incorporated into a number of Maratta’s late paintings. In 1704 Maratta was knighted by Pope Clement XI.
With a general decline in patronage around the beginning of the eighteenth century and largely due to the economic downturn, Maratta turned his hand to painting restoration, including works by Raphael and Carracci. Maratta was only partly a classicist in practice. His work displays without restraint the Baroque quality of magnificence, and he was wholeheartedly engaged in the task of representing with the utmost splendour the dogmas of the Counter-Reformation.
The record price for this artist at auction is $1,216,000 USD for “Tobias and the Angel” – oil on canvas 26½” x 38½” sold at Christie’s New York, January 6, 2001 – Lot 153.