Lorenzo de Nevers
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Eighth son of Abraham Boisvert and Marie Biron, he was part of the ninth immigrant generation in Quebec. At the fifth generation, the name ‘de Nevers’ was changed into ‘Boisvert’. Mr. Ernest Laforce, whose grandmother was the sister of Lorenzo de Nevers’s grandmother, explains the change as follows:
Three ‘de Nevers’ established themselves at Baie Saint-Antoine (called Baie-du-Febvre). One of them chose to establish himself at Coteau du Bois Vert. In order to be able to identify him differently from the others, people were calling him de Nevers from du Bois Vert, then Nevers known as Boisvert, then finally at the fifth generation, Boisvert only.
It is only in 1896, while the family had immigrated to Central Falls, Rhode Island, that Edmond, the elder brother, a lawyer, decided to take back the family name ‘de Nevers’ using a private law that was in force in Rhode Island. Lorenzo became then ‘de Nevers’.
Lorenzo’s parents registered him in drawing courses in the Rhode Island School of Design. At about 17 years old, his brother Edmond, already studying in Paris, convinced his parents to send Lorenzo in Paris to study painting. The parents agreed to send him for one year. Lorenzo came back fifteen years later.
In Paris, under the supervision of Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens, he followed during two years the Julian Academia courses which was, at the time, one of the best schools. He was a colleague of Pablo Picasso and Borduas.
According to Rosaire Dion-Levesque[who?], Lorenzo was admitted to Paris Fine Arts in 1902. He spent ten years under the supervision of painting masters such as Gabriel Ferrier and Léon Bonnat. He came in ninth of 400 when he competed for the Rome Grand Prize. He showed a painting depicting ‘The escape to Egypt’.
At the time, it was very common, more than today, for both beginners and more advanced artists to copy masterpieces, first to improve, second to reproduce in-demand paintings. However, there was an important rule: the copy could never be the same size as the original.
In the history archives of Canadian art, published by Owl’s Head Press for the Concordia University (Volume II, no 1, summer 1975), a study presented by Mr. Laurier Lacroix from Paris-X-Nanterre University, informs us on ‘the Canadian artists copyist in Louvre (1838-1915), John Lyman (1886-1967), the couple Dubé, Cornélius Krieghoff (1815-1872), Joseph-Charles Franchère (1891).
|Benouville||Saint-François d’Assise bénit la ville d’Assise||21 March 1900|
|Rosa Bonheur||Labourage||20 September 1900|
|Boucher||La toilette de Vénus||12 June 1900|
|Boucher||Pastorale (Le nid)||10 avril 1902|
|Boucher||Berger et bergère||16 September 1905|
|Brascassat||Paysage et animaux||30 August 1905|
|Brawer (Adriaen)||Le fumeur||19 December 1901|
|Chardin||Le bénédicté||28 November 1902|
|Courbet (Gustave)||Chevreuil sous bois||9 March 1900|
|Daubigny (Charles François)||Le printemps||28 February 1901|
|Flandrin (Jean-Hyppolyte)||Portrait de jeune fille||23 May 1900|
|Fromentin (Eugène)||La chasse au faucon en Algérie||26 January 1900|
|Greuze (J.B.)||La laitière||28 February 1901|
|Greuze (J.B.)||L’accordée du village||3 October 1905|
|Huet (Jean-Baptiste)||Chien attaquant deux oies||3 February 1900|
|Huignon||Avoine en fleur||22 November 1899|
|Murillo||Le jeune mendiant||5 April 1905|
|Ollivier (M. Barthelemy)||Le thé à l’anglaise||11 October 1901|
|Rembrandt||Portrait d’un jeune homme||14 April 1907|
|Reni||Ecce Homo||4 August 1900|
|Teniers||Le fumeur||30 August 1900|
|Teniers (David)||Paysage et intérieur de ferme||1er May1900|
|Vicelli (Tiziano)||Alphonse de Ferrare et Laurre de Dante||25 September 1900|
|Troyon (Constant)||Bœufs se rendant au labour||5 February 1902|
|Vernet (Claude Joseph)||Paysage, les baigneuses||29 January 1906|
|Le Brun||Portrait de Mme Lebrun et de sa fille||24 May 1901|
|Le Brun ( Mme E.L. Vigée)||La paix ramenant l’abondance||7 April 1901|
He left Europe for good in 1914 because of the war and established himself in Central Falls where his brothers were. Then he moved in turn to Providence, New York, Central Park South where he stayed for 17 years and then Montreal for few years. In 1952 he came back to Central Falls. He travelled often to Montreal and Saint-Hyacinthe where he had many friends of which Mr and Mrs Henry Duprat and Madam’s sister (Rollande) and the painter Irène Legendre.
According to Philippe A. Lajoie, in US, on top of the portraits the old presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Thomas E. Dewey, New York’s governor, and Aram J. Pothier, Rhode Island’s governor, he painted the portraits of :
- Hugo A. Dubuque, the first French-American judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, portrait ordered by Calumet Club and was as of March 1972 in the hands of Fall River Independent newspaper of which he was a co-founder in 1885;
- full size portraits in the principal office of ‘Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d’Amérique’ in Woonsocket : Mr. Henri T. Ledoux, of Nashua, N.H., third president ; J. Adélard Philias I. Jalbert, second director of ‘Caisse de l’Écolier de laSociété’;
- Portraits of French-American mayors of Manchester, New Hampshire;
- Portraits of four presidents of ’Association Canado-Américaine; Théophile B. Biron, Dr. Armand A.E. Brien, the juges Elphège J. Daignault and Adolphe Robert.
- At Capitol of Rhode Island State and on the wall of ’Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste d’Amérique’ and ’Association Canado-Américaine’, people can admire about thirty paintings from Lorenzo de Nevers.
In the west of Canada, at the Prince-Albert Diocese in Saskatchewan, he decorated the cathedral as well as Mgr Prudhomme’s[who?] private chapel.
In Montreal, he painted former prime ministers such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Louis Stephen Saint-Laurent; then Jacob Nichols, Cardinal Léger, Esioff Patenaude, lieutenant-governor (the painting disappeared in the fire at Bois de Coulonge on February 20, 1966), and the former Montreal mayor, Camillien Houde
Lorenzo de Nevers also did landscape paintings. During his long career, over fifty years, he painted at least one thousand five hundred landscapes that now decorate homes in France, Belgium, Canada and United States.
On Sunday, February 25, 1962, in Pawtucket, R.I. Lorenzo de Nevers was decorated with the medal from ‘Ordre du Mérite Franco-Américain’.
In 1965 he joined his brother Wilfrid at Saint-Antoine hospice in Woonsocket. He died at Fogarty Hospital on March 29, 1967 at 89 years old.