Nicholas Grandmaison "Straw Hat," circa 1940, pastel, 28" x 21"
After serving in the Russian army during WWI, Nicholas de Grandmaison made his way to England to study at the St. John’s Wood Art School in London. Further studies followed in Paris before he immigrated to Canada in 1923 and settled in Banff. North American Indians, especially members of the Blackfoot nation, fascinated him. Travelling widely in pursuit of his passion, he soon set aside his oil paints in favour of pastels, depicting his subjects from life with a remarkable honesty. In an art market filled with romanticized stereotypes and historical recreations, de Grandmaison’s pastel and oil portraits are authentic portrayals of real people from a time gone by.
Straw Hat came into the possession of Bill Mayberry at Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg after a client from Newfoundland contacted him. The client’s grandfather, who had been in the lumber business, had had his portrait painted by de Grandmaison. At the time he also purchased the circa-1940s Straw Hat portrait for a few hundred dollars. It was subsequently passed down to his daughter and then to his granddaughter, who also enjoyed it for many years. A Winnipeg collector recently purchased Straw Hat from Mayberry Fine Art for more than $25,000.
“Over the years, I have come to realize that a collector never really owns a historical work of art, but rather becomes the custodian of it for a given period of time,” says Mayberry. “Great artists pass on like the rest of us, but the art they produce lives on. Since it outlasts us, part of the joy of possessing a significant historical artwork comes from knowing where it came from, and who loved it before you.”