Nicholas de Grandmaison in the Canadian Historical Exhibition at Mayberry Fine Art

•November 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

View the works by Nicholas de Grandmaison currently on display in the Important Canadian Historical Artworks Exhibition at the Mayberry Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba which opened November 14th,2009

Visit the Mayberry website to see a magnificent oil portrait of “Longtime Squirrel” done by the artist circa 1944.


Nicholas de Grandmaison at Government House – Edmonton, Alberta

•September 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Black White Man”

Janice Ryan of the Edmonton Journal recently wrote an article on the art collection  at Government House in Edmonton, Alberta.  This collection of both historic and contemporary art by both Canadian and International artists was started in 1969 and has grown through both donations and available acquisition funding.  The collection now has 215 pieces.  Included in the collection is a portrait of “Black White Man” done by Nicholas de Grandmaison.

The current exhibition “Vanishing Point:  A Rural Perspective” exhibits the work of four Alberta Artists – William Kurelek, H.G. Glyde, Annora Brown and Doris Zaharichuk.

Government House is open to the public every Sunday and holiday Monday.

Here is a link to the full article and photos of work in the collection.

Nicholas de Grandmaison portraits featured in Dana Claxton Exhibition

•November 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Dana Claxton: To Mark on Surface – Main Gallery 3 Channel Video Installation

November 6, 2009 – January 8, 2010 – University of Lethbridge Art Gallery.

Dana Claxton: To Mark on Surface at the University of Lethbridge

•November 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

How we render ourselves to exist and to leave a marking of who we are is an ancient practice in many cultures. This new work records the ancient site of Writing on Stone and brings those renderings into the gallery space. I have placed these drawings side by side with the drawings by Nicolas de Grandmaison.

I have attempted to show two ways of rendering and marking on surface. One is in stone and nature, the other on paper. One is considered tribal and the other is considered western. Although, I don’t look at either being different from each other, to me they are both makings and renderings.

The tribal work was made by Plains people or perhaps Star People and ancient people. The western work recorded people from ancient cultures of the Plains area. I worked with both de Grandmaison’s finished and unfinished work as so many of his lines are like the lines of the ancient works from Writing on Stone. I have shown both his finished and unfinished works, as well as details of his line and form, and edited this into the lines and forms of Writing on Stone. I have attempted to meld and collapse two seemingly different approaches to rendering existence and essentially tried to make them as one. Regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, cultural practice or anything else that creates divisions – this new work combines video art and the Lakota worldview that everything is related “mitakuye oyasin” – all my relations, everything is related.

The form and lines that have been placed upon the stone are magnificent. The lines move and dance even. The work is alive. And similar to de Grandmaison’s pastels, his lines and form are alive and passionate.

Dana Claxton

Dana Claxton works in film, video, photography, multi channel installation, performance, curation, aboriginal broadcasting and pedagogy. She work has been exhibited internationally and held in many public collections including the National Gallery of Canada. She has received numerous awards including the VIVA Award and the Eiteljorg Fellowship. Currently she is the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University and her artwork has been selected for the 17th Biennale of Sydney 2010.

The main intent of her practice has been to seek justice for aboriginal people through the arts and share the possibilities of spirit in the gallery, the class and on the screen. Of Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux descent, she was born in Yorkton Saskatchewan and lives in Vancouver.

de Grandmaison pastel sells for record price in Doc Seaman auction

•August 13, 2009 • 4 Comments


By Robert Remington,  Calgary Herald May 26, 2009

n a post-Wall Street world of derivatives and Ponzi schemes, it comes as no surprise to art experts that a painting sold at the recent Doc Seaman estate auction fetched a record price, even in the current economic climate.”Rarity and quality in any economy commands a price,” says Robert Heffel of the Vancouver based Heffel Fine Art Auction House, a leading Canadian dealer.

A painting of a Blackfoot chief by artist Nicholas de Grandmaison sold May 9 in Calgary for $58,650, an auction sale record for a work by de Grandmaison. Titled One Gun Blackfoot from Cluny, Alta., it was part of a collection of western Canadian artists owned by the late Doc Seaman, the Calgary oil and cattle baron who was also a co-owner of the Calgary Flames.

The record price for the de Grandmaison came three weeks after an original oil painting by Group of Seven progenitor Tom Thomson sold at auction in Calgary for $350,000–$50,000 less than its reserve price and $150,000 below its top estimated value.

The low price for the Thomson had some pundits deriding art as an insecure investment in hard times. Not so, says Heffel.

“There are myriad factors that go into determining the value of a work of art, including quality, condition and rarity. The de Grandmaison was an important painting. What this shows, and this is a truism around the world, is that great works always get great prices.”

Ryan Mayberry, a Winnipeg art dealer who has dealt extensively in works by de Grandmaison, says he has sold the artist’s paintings privately for a higher price than that garnered at the Seaman sale. But the price in Calgary was a public auction record for a de Grandmaison, according to auction records.

The de Grandmaison was one of 55 paintings owned by Seaman that sold for a total of $248,000. Most were western art. In addition, 14 bronze sculptures sold for $29,000, bringing the total sale value of Seaman’s artwork to $277,000.

“Art is a tangible commodity,” says Mayberry. “Pieces that are highly collectible are all unique, one-of-a-kind items.”

What makes de Grandmaison’s work so unique, he says, is that they are important historical documents as well as great pieces of art. The artist is best known for his portraits of native people, done in the 1930s and 1940s. Many of his subjects were from southern Alberta, although de Grandmaison also painted in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the northern states.

“Not only was he a great technician working mainly in pastel, which is very difficult, but his subjects were all people that he had met personally. He wanted to document what he believed was a vanishing generation of true, red-blooded Indian people in their native dress,”Mayberry said.

Sonia de Grandmaison, the artist’s daughter, said she was not surprised by the record.

“A lot collectors tell me that these have been undervalued for a long time. He’s regarded as the most important recorder of Plains Indians, so who knows where this market could go,” she said.

A collection of her father’s work was recently exhibited in Germany, the first time he was featured outside North America, which she says may have been a factor in the Calgary price.

“I understand the successful bidder was an art dealer purchasing it for a client.”

Heffel, who specializes in Group of Seven artists, expects strong sales at the company’s show June 17 in Vancouver. It includes a work by Emily Carr with an estimated value between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

The company’s fall show last November, at the height of the economic malaise, brought in $12.6 million, which Heffel said was one of the most successful sales in Canadian history.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Nicholas de Grandmaison First Exhibition in Europe

•August 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Landesmuseum, Hannover, Germany

Landesmuseum, Hannover, Germany

On April 26th the Hannover State Museum opened the exhibition “Native Indians of Canada”.  This exhibition was comprised of 150 artifacts from the Canadian Museum of Civilization of both ethnological and archaeological significance and a selection of  21 works by Nicholas de Grandmaison from the University of Lethbridge (Alberta) permanent collection.

This exhibition closed on August 2nd,2009

Article from Hannoverfche Allgemeine 16/04/09

Article from Hannoverfche Allgemeine 16/04/09

Press release from the University of Lethbridge


Art Gallery tours major exhibition in Germany

As seen in The Legend

The U of L Art Gallery has sent Drawn from the Past: the portraits and practice of Nicholas de Grandmaison to the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum in Hannover, Germany for an exhibition from April 24 to Aug. 2, 2009.

“We are delighted to send an exhibition to such a significant museum,” says Dr. Josephine Mills, director/curator of the U of L Art Gallery, who will attend the opening on April 24. “The project is particularly exciting because this is the first time the U of L Art Gallery has toured an exhibition in Europe.

Dr. Josephine Mills, director/curator of the U of L Art Gallery, looks over part of the de Grandmaison exhibition touring Germany.

“The Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum has an extensive holding of art and cultural objects and by being on display in this excellent institution, work from the U of L Collection will reach a broad audience, including Hannover residents as well as tourists.”

The de Grandmaison exhibition is part of a companion art exhibition associated with a large exhibition of Canadian aboriginal objects and artwork from the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and Banff’s Whyte Museum are also lending artworks for the companion exhibition. The goal of the art exhibitions is to expand on European interpretation of First Nations culture and the influence of First Nations people on European-trained artists working in Canada.

“This exhibition was selected from the University of Lethbridge’s extensive holding of Nicholas de Grandmaison pastels and paintings as well as our holding of archival material,” says Mills.

Drawn from the Past focuses on the artist’s First Nations portraits and on the context of his life and career and includes work produced from 1930 through 1960. The archival material includes letters, personal photographs and audio recordings of songs and interviews recorded by de Grandmaison while meeting with his First Nations subjects. Unfinished studies and sketchbooks included with the exhibition provide audiences with a view into the artist’s process.

Gordon Snyder, guest curator of the exhibition, selected a strong range of de Grandmaison’s portraits of Aboriginal people.

“The artist’s passion for depicting leaders and ordinary members of many different First Nations communities is clearly apparent in these powerful works,” he says.

Born in 1892 into an aristocratic family in Russia, Nicholas de Grandmaison studied art, music, history, languages, cartography and topography. He immigrated to Canada from England in 1923 where he had gone after spending most of the First World War in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. Settling in Winnipeg, he saw Plains Indians for the first time and determined to paint their portraits.

“He realized their traditional way of life would soon diminish and he began painting the Plains Indians in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – eventually capturing subjects from as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands and south to the deserts of the Southwestern United States,” says Snyder.

In addition to curating, Snyder also produced a book that explored the holdings at the University in relation to other work in public and private collections by this artist. The exhibition appeared at the U of L Art Gallery in fall 2007 and at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton in 2008.

“Longtime Squirrel, Mesamikayisi”

•August 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

LONGTIME SQUIRRELIn the 1890’s Longtime Squirrel was one of a cattle-killing ring that was caught and sent to prison.  Because he had given much of the meat to starving members of the tribe, his actions were praised by his people.  After his release from prison, he had a vision about horses wandering freely on the prairie as far as the eye could see.  Taking this as a sign, he began to riase his own stock and by 1939 had almost 700 head, one the the largest herds on the Blood Reserve.  He kept them as a sign of wealth and also provided rodeo stock for wild horse races and bucking horse competitions.  Three time a member of the Horn Society, he owned a medicine pipe and belonged to several other religious societies.  He died in l945.

History in Their Blood by  Hugh A. Dempsey