Eric Riordon, ARCA, 1906-1948

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Eric Riordon had a stellar artistic career that spanned
only 15 years, making his paintings particularly rare



Eric Riordon had an artistic career that spanned only 15 years, making his paintings particularly rare.

John Eric Benson Riordon was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, but the family soon moved to Montreal, where he attended McGill University before studying for a year at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

From Montreal, Eric Riordon travelled to Paris in 1932, where he continued his art studies at the prestigious Grande Chaumière and Académie Julian. He then travelled and painted extensively in Europe.

Exhibited in Paris

Eric Riordon achieved some instant success, with his work shown at the Paris Salon in 1933 and 1934.

On his return to Montreal, the young painter turned his eyes to the Laurentians, where he had spent many summers at a family cottage north of Mont Tremblant at Lac Lache.

Dring the 1930s, Eric Riordon established a reputation for his fine paintings of the Laurentiens, mounting his first solo show in 1935. He had further solo shows in Montreal each year during the 1930s, as well as several exhibits in Toronto. His paintings were also exhibited regularly by the Royal Canadian Academy.

Other favourite subject matters were seascapes, beach, harbour and river scenes, painted both in Canada (along the St. Lawrence River, Gaspe and Nova Scotia), in Europe (particularly in Brittany, France) and the United States (Maine).

Many of these nautical themed paintings grew out of Eric Riordon’s early interest in the sea.

Painted in the Laurentians

After the Second World War broke out, Eric Riordon joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve, training to become a Lieutenant. He was posted to the East coast for duty, where he was promoted to second in command of a corvette engaged in anti-submarine and trans-Atlantic convoy duty.

While serving, Eric Riordon created a series of miniature sea paintings which depicted the Canadian navy at war. Thirty-four of these paintings were later exhibited across Canada (from 1950-52).

After the war, the artist built a house near Ste. Adele, Quebec, and painted more Laurentian scenes. These depicted mountains, valleys, rivers and streams through all four seasons, with majestic skies, but his peaceful winter scenes are probably best known.

Eric Riordon became an Associate Royal Canadian Academy member in 1946.

Eric Riordon died at age 43 in 1948, leaving behind a wife and two sons, as well as an artistic legacy that is admired by discerning Canadian art lovers and fine art collectors.

Source:  A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database.