Frederick Simpson Coburn
Frederick Simpson Coburn was born in Upper Melbourne, Québec in 1871. Coburn began his artistic career illustrating literary works by Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens. In his early life, Coburn studied art around the world in cities such as New York, Berlin, Paris, London, and Antwerp. While living in Paris, Coburn enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and studied under Jean-Léon Gérome at his studio. Gérome taught Coburn the artistic style of Academicism which reflected the Neoclassical and Romantic artistic styles. During his years in Europe, Coburn frequently travelled back to Québec where he met Dr. William Henry Drummond who hired Coburn to illustrate his book of Habitant and French-Canadian poems. This allowed Coburn to develop his style of portraying the lives of Quebecois people in his paintings. Coburn finally settled in Antwerp after marrying and subsequently spent the next twenty years of his life living and working there. The influence of Dutch landscape painting can be seen in Coburn's painting, most particularly in his handling of clouds and natural sunlight.
After return to Québec in 1913 in anticipation of the impending war in Europe, Coburn set up a studio in Melbourne and began focusing on developing full-time career as a painter. In addition to having a studio in Melbourne, Coburn established a studio with his wife in Montréal. Although he mostly remained in Quebec for the remainder of his life, he continued to exhibit his work in Europe. Coburn`s international success allowed him the fortune of being one of the few successful Canadian artists to consistently sell their art throughout the First World War and the Depression.
Coburn`s artistic style changed later in his career, following the death of his wife in 1933. He stopped painting and refused to leave his home. Coburn's concerned friends encouraged him to return to painting and suggested he meet with a model and dancer named Carlotta Lavoie. His meeting with Carlotta inspired him to return to painting, after which he created many portraits of Carlotta in her dance costumes. These paintings were part of an exhibition he had of his new work in 1936.
Coburn painted less in his later life, but his work continued to be popular and frequently exhibited in Canada and Europe. This allowed Coburn to paint less by living off of his past success. Coburn died in his hometown of Melbourne in 1960 at the age of 89. He continues to be best known for his paintings of winter landscapes of Québec which primary feature images of horse drawn sleighs.