After studying at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Suzor-Côté returned to his native Canada and sought to capture the mesmerising mountain landscapes of his homeland. Here, he quickly gained critical acclaim as an artist, breaking away from the rigid academic tradition of studio painting, in favour of Canada's iconic and breath-taking scenery. Heavily influenced by French Impressionism, his works demonstrate a fascination with colour theory and the play of light on snowy mountain tops and icy lakes.
In 1907, Suzor-Côté began to develop his talents in sculpting, and by 1919 he had excelled in the medium. His works in bronze are quite rare, as he is thought to have only produced around fifty in his career. As with his painterly approach, the influence of Impressionism remained dominant throughout his experimentation with sculpture.
In L’Essoucher, idealised Classical subjects have been abandoned for character studies of rural settlers, representing the essence of country life in Canada. Here, one is immediately drawn to the figure’s body language: his back growing tired and beginning to hunch over; his hands, larger than life, grip onto his tools as his body strains with the hard manual labour he must undertake. Equally, there is a clear attempt to depart from the academic sculptures of his contemporaries, which strive for smooth perfection and beauty. In the present example, Suzor-Côté has sculpted a richly textured surface that is both evocative and captivating. The eye is carried across every fold and crevice, drawing our attention to the physicality of the labourer's task at hand. L’Essoucher typifies Suzor-Côté’s move away from idealism, towards more authentic subjects which celebrate the individual and, above all, captures the essence of rural Canadian life which he loved and cherished.
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