Nicholas de Grandmaison

Canadian [1892-1978]

Order of Canada, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Descended from French and Russian aristocracy, Nicholas de Grandmaison had a cultured upbringing, studying music, art, history and languages. At 19, he enlisted in the Russian Army and served during World War I, where he became a German prisoner of war. During his four years of internment, he turned to portraiture as a diversion, painting fellow officers, and even German officers. After the war, he eventually made his way to London, where his courtly manners and charm helped him gain admission to the St. John's Wood School of Art and to secure painting commissions.

De Grandmaison emigrated to Canada in 1923, listed officially as a "farm worker", though once arriving in Manitou, Manitoba, it became clear that he had no affinity or desire for farm work. He joined the Art Club of Winnipeg, secured work at a printing/engraving firm, and was soon again seeking commissions - these were often of children, though he would later say that he did not like to paint children "for they have not lived enough or suffered enough to have interesting faces."

In 1930, on a trip to The Pas, in northern Manitoba, de Grandmaison was first exposed to First Nations people living in a traditional setting . He was immediately captivated and sought out opportunities to draw them. It became his mission in life. He travelled west of Winnipeg and to various Cree communities in Saskatchewan, then to Southern Alberta where he encountered the Blackfoot, Sarcee, Peigan, Stoney, and Blood Tribes. After a period of living and teaching in Calgary, the de Grandmaisons finally settled in Banff, where Nicholas would set up his home and studio. De Grandmaison held a romantic vision of the Plains Indians as the aristocrats of North America; he felt a strong affinity with them, perhaps as a result of having experienced the destruction of his own culture during the Russian Civil War.

De Grandmaison's greatest contribution is in the artistic preservation of First Nations people, to which he devoted four decades . Whether drawing a great Chief, an elder, a warrior, or a mother and child, his dignified and emotive portraits capture not only the essence of the individual as a person, but as a member of a proud and ancient people.

Nicholas de Grandmaison's honours include membership in the Royal Canadian Academy, the Order of Canada, and an honourary degree from the University of Calgary. Yet his greatest tribute came upon his death in 1978, when Nicholas de Grandmaison (Enuk-sapop or Little Plume) was buried on the Peigan Reserve, having been made an Honorary Chief in 1959.

We are currently seeking works by Nicholas de Grandmaison to be included in future auctions.

If you are interested in selling with us or wish to get our opinion of the value of your artworks please contact us for an appointment to evaluate your artwork for auction.

A Few Notable Results from our Auctions

Nicholas de Grandmaison

PORTRAIT, INDIAN BRAVE
pastel on paper
18.75 x 13.75 in.

Sold for $ 40,000 (hammer price) – November 2006
A record price at auction for Nicholas de Grandmaison

Nicholas de Grandmaison

WOLF TAIL (APISOH'SOYI), PEIGAN - BROCKET, ALBERTA
pastel on paper
16.5 x 11.75 in.

Sold for $ 30,000 (hammer price) – May 2018

Nicholas de Grandmaison

SITTING EAGLE - JOHN HUNTER
pastel on paper
24 x 18.5 in.

Sold for $ 30,000 (hammer price) – May 2017

Nicholas de Grandmaison

MOTHER AND CHILD
pastel on paper
25 x 21 in.

Sold for $ 30,000 (hammer price) – May 2017

Nicholas de Grandmaison

ALDRED SMALL LEGS, PEIGAN; ca 1942
pastel on paper
22 x 17.25 in.

Sold for $ 27,000 (hammer price) – November 2015

Nicholas de Grandmaison

APITA-TO-MA, BLOOD INDIAN; ca 1940
pastel on paper
21 x 16.5 in.

Sold for $ 26,000 (hammer price) – May 2011

Nicholas de Grandmaison

BLACKFOOT CHIEF
pastel on paper
24 x 19 in.

Sold for $ 25,000 (hammer price) – November 2017

Nicholas de Grandmaison

PORTRAIT WITH EAGLE FEATHER
pastel on paper
19 x 15 in.

Sold for $ 23,000 (hammer price) – November 2010

Nicholas de Grandmaison

BRAVE WITH RED HEADBAND
pastel on paper
25.5 x 20.25 in.

Sold for $ 22,500 (hammer price) – November 2015

Nicholas de Grandmaison

BLACKFOOT BRAVE
pastel on paper
18 x 14 in.

Sold for $ 22,000 (hammer price) – November 2014

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