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Theodore Gegoux (1850 – 1931) The Fishing Lesson

Oil on board, 25.5 x 47.5 inches/Signed lower right

Theodore Gegoux was French-Canadian who immigrated to Clayton, New York in 1864 to live with his older brother, after the death of his father. As a child he exhibited artistic talent, drawing faces in the margins of his school books. He was severely reprimanded for defacing his books, to the extent that he came to believe that art was bad. After moving to the United States, he took on a number of menial jobs, the last of which was a bartender in the hotel where he stayed. One day in 1873, the proprietor asked young Theo to fetch the local sign painter for a sign he needed, to which he replied, “let me paint your sign”. The sign became the talk of the town and launched Gegoux’s career as an artist. He opened a studio in Carthage, NY., and later, Watertown, N.Y., where he soon received many commissions to paint local notables. His works also included several Civil War generals and Thomas Edison. In addition to his considerable skill as a portraitist, he was also an exceptional landscapist, and without having a formal training, made a good living for himself. By 1881, Gegoux had saved enough money to travel to Paris for a year of studying and copying the works of the “Great Masters”. In 1896, his portrait, “A Young Paganini”, was accepted for the first Exhibition of the Carnegie Art Galleries. In 1909, Gegoux mysteriously vanished, leaving behind his wife and children. Believed dead, he turned up two years later in Portland, Oregon as a portrait painter. Given, the scenic environs of Oregon, it is no wonder that during this time, he executed a prodigious quantity of landscapes and seascapes. Except for a single visit to New York, he spent the remainder of career on the west coast migrating between Oregon and California. Although highly skilled and having add early success, he died penniless at the Ranchos Los Amigos Medical Center (the former Los Angeles County Poor Farm) in 1931. Gegoux’s works have often been overlooked, primarily because he often did not sign them and many of those that he did sign, are barely legible. The above painting is an exquisite Gegoux landscape painting of the MacIntyre Range of the Adirondack Mountains, New York. Unlike many of Gegoux’s work, this painting has with a strong, legible signature. This painting depicts one of the most photographed areas of the Adirondack High Peaks—Algonquin (right), Boundary, Iroquois and Wright peaks (right of Algonquin), Mt. Marcy (tallest peak to the left) and Mt. Colder (left of Wright Peak).

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