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Augustus Kenderdine

Augustus Frederick Lafosse (Gus) Kenderdine (1870 - 1947) was a landscape and portrait artist of Lancashire and Saskatchewan, a farmer of Saskatchewan, and academic at the University of Saskatchewan. Kenderdine was born 31 March 1870 at Chorlton-upon-Medlock in Lancashire. He first studied art under his godfather, Chevalier de la Fosse, and subsequently he was apprenticed to several local artists before establishing the business of "Gus Kenderdine: Photographer and Art Dealer" in 1890. From 1890 to 1891, Kenderdine studied with Jules Lefebvre at the Academie Julian in Paris, and his work was subsequently displayed at the Paris Salon. On returning to England, Kenderdine joined the Blackpool Sketching Club in 1891 and was a prolific exhibitor at their annual exhibitions and an occasional committee member. In 1901 and 1902 several of his paintings were hung at the Royal Academy's Annual Summer Exhibition. In 1894 Kenderdine married Jane Ormerod at Garstang, where he had been painting, and they subsequently had four children.

In 1908, Kenderdine immigrated with his family to Saskatchewan, where he homesteaded near Lashburn. For the next decade he was preoccupied by the rigors of farming and ranching, before turning his farming operations over to his son, and returning to his painting. Kenderdine secured several portrait commissions, and in subsequent years exhibited his work across Canada, but was best known in Saskatchewan. He seldom painted in watercolour, although he did several landscape studies in charcoal and wash in a style reminiscent of Gainsborough. His sweeping romantic depictions of the Saskatchewan landscape, especially around Emma Lake, were indelibly marked by his training in England and France. His imagery recast the province's topography in the comforting image of Europe. As a teacher he influenced generations of landscape painters, among them Wynona Mulcaster, Reta Cowley and Dorothy Knowles.

In 1920 Kenderdine met Walter Charles Murray, the first president of the University of Saskatchewan, who wanted to establish an art program. He provided studio space in the Physics Building on the Saskatoon Campus, where Kenderdine could work and teach. In the 1926-27 term, Kenderdine began to teach non-credit classes which, by 1933, had become credit classes. In 1936 he established the Murray Point Art School at Emma Lake, which became the University Art Camp and the forerunner of the Emma Lake Artists' Workshops. The Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus was named in his honour. Kenderdine's passion for the "wilderness" of northern Saskatchewan, and his enthusiasm for attracting people to his summer art camps, corresponded with the beginnings of the local tourist industry.

In 1936, a School of Fine Art was established at Regina College, now the Regina Conservatory of Music, by Norman MacKenzie, who, as part of his bequest, appointed Kenderdine as the School's first head and curator of the gallery, which he held until his death in Regina on 3 August 1947. In 1991 the University of Saskatchewan named the Kenderdine Art Gallery in his honour, thanks to a bequest by his daughter. His works can also be seen in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.


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