Frederic S. Coburn

Painter and illustrator Frederick Simpson Coburn was born on March 18, 1871, in Upper Melbourne (Eastern Townships) and died there on May 25, 1960. From 1887 to 1890, he studied at the Conseil des arts et manufactures de Montréal as well as at the Carl Hecker School of Art of New York. He then left for Europe to pursue his training at the Berlin Academy, the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris and at other art schools in London. In 1897, his illustration of ‘’ The Habitant and Other French-Canadian Poems ‘’ by Canadian poet  William Henry Drummond gave him a solid reputation in this art form and led him to illustrate works by American, English and Canadian authors such as Louis-Honoré Fréchette, Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Lord Tennyson. On the eve of the First World War, he came back for good to his country, rediscovering with pleasure the stunning light of the Canadian winters that his friend and mentor, Maurice Cullen, encouraged him to paint. Coburn started travelling his home area to make sketches that would be used to depict winter scenes inspired by rural landscapes and for which he became famous. And in his paintings, one often sees a white horse pulling a red sled during a beautiful sunny winter day where the whiteness of the snow contrasts with the intense blue of the sky, the artist’s favourite colour whose technique is referred to as ‘’Coburn Sky’’.

Frederick S. Coburn was appointed a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1928 and the following year, he won the Jessie Dow Award of the Art Association of Montreal. In 1939, he received an honorary doctorate from Bishop’s University (Lennoxville). His artworks are part of the most prestigious museum collections across the country as well as abroad, namely the Tate Gallery in London (England) and the National Gallery of Brisbane (Australia).

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