Louis Nicolas Life & Work by François-Marc Gagnon
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I became fascinated by Louis Nicolas when I realized that, astoundingly, only the religious paintings and official portraits in New France were being considered. Who, in the late seventeenth century, painted the incredible landscape? Had anybody been struck by the beauties of this new country, its Indigenous inhabitants, its flora and fauna? The cartographers and engravers included a few examples of this richness in their work, but they worked from afar, without ever visiting Canada. Then I discovered Louis Nicolas: the images collected in the album we know as the Codex Canadensis form a masterpiece, in art as well as in the natural sciences.
François-Marc Gagnon

François-Marc Gagnon

François-Marc Gagnon is one of Canada’s most respected and prolific art historians. He has focused on two areas in particular: early Canadian art, especially the painters and sculptors of New France; and the 1940s–50s, writing on Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Guido Molinari, and the automatist movement, among others. His work on New France led directly to his interest in Louis Nicolas and the publication of The Codex Canadensis and the Writings of Louis Nicolas, in collaboration with Nancy Senior and Réal Ouellet (2011).

          After a long career in art history at the Université de Montréal, Gagnon was, until recently, the director of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art at Concordia University. He continues to research and to write, and his forthcoming titles include a small volume on Riopelle and a large Bestiary of New France, both in French.

          In recognition of his contribution to Canadian art, Gagnon has been awarded many prizes, including the Raymond Klibansky Prize (2000), the Prix Gérard-Morisset (2010), and, with Nancy Senior and Réal Ouellet, the Canada Prize in the Humanities (2013). In 1999 he was honoured with the Order of Canada, and in 2015 with the Ordre national du Québec.