Unrivalled colourist and passionate cyclist, known for his breathtaking views and exhilarating perspectives of Quebec landscapes, Marc-Aurèle Fortin has bequeathed the public an intimate yet grandiose vision of the regions which he long explored by bicycle, painting in the open air or in his studio on an array of available supports. His immense trees, like cathedrals bathed in radiant green, red, or golden light, and his lyrical views of the Charlevoix, Saguenay, Gaspé, and Montreal regions always amazed his peers. It is therefore unsurprising that much has been written about Fortin’s prolific body of work that portrays his beloved Quebec landscapes. The painter’s mystique and reclusive lifestyle have also inspired many authors, especially as he remained on the fringe of modernist tendencies, preferring to explore his own personal style and distinctive touch. A true master, Fortin forged a unique and enviable position for himself among the greats of post-war landscape painting.
Marc-Aurèle Fortin was born in 1888 in Sainte-Rose, on the outskirts of Montreal. He spent his childhood in the shade of imperial elm trees, which would become a preferred subject from 1920 to 1930 and also brought him renown. In 1939, he participated in the New York World Fair, where he was awarded the bronze medal for his painting March Snow, and in 1942, he was elected an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy. His work was the subject of several retrospectives during his lifetime, including an exhibition in 1944 at the National Gallery of Canada that travelled to Montreal and Quebec City. Fortin died in 1970 at Sanatorium de Macamic in Abitibi, blind and with both legs amputated. (A. L.)