Henri Masson (1907-1996)

He is born in Spy, a small village near Namur in Belgium. He started his studies at the Athénée Royale of Brussels when he was 13 and from then on all his spare time was devoted to drawing and painting. After his father died in 1921, he and his mother immigrated to Canada, settling in Ottawa. He started working in an engraving studio in Ottawa in 1923. He also took courses at the Ottawa Art Association and the Ottawa Art Club.

He earned his living, as an engraver until 1945, ensuring the security of his family, which he explained, was vital considering that he had three children and was not by nature a bohemian. Masson first exhibited in 1933, a group exhibition to which he submitted a selection of watercolors, pastels and drawings. His first showing of oil paintings was in 1936 in an exhibition at the Ontario Society of Artists in Toronto. The Masson household was a beehive of activity and an interesting mix of friends met once a week to discuss music, painting, politics and the state of society. Eclectic, cultivated, open-minded, Masson could be the heart and soul of any gathering. He talked about music as a connoisseur, he was well informed about politics and he could hold forth easily on travel and other interests. He discussed painting in simple terms, very much in the manner of the paintings he produced.

Masson is first and foremost a landscape artist. He paints from nature; trees, villages, the sea, lighthouses and small boats. It is easy to see from his work that Masson liked old houses and street scenes.

In 1940 the art critic Marious Barbeau noted that the artist was interested in the inhabitants of the countryside that he explored, preferring scenes where people were at work or at play. He described Masson as a chronicler and a landscapist. In the eyes of many critics Masson was the perfect artist, reflecting all the qualities attributed to Canadians in his art. Masson was a member of:
the Canadian Group of Painters
the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor
the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts
the Federation of Canadian Artists.

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