Leon Gaspard

(1882-1964)

Gaspard was born in Vitebsk, Russia, where he studied with Julius Penn. He also attended art schools in Odessa, and Moscow, and at the age of seventeen he briefly attended the Academie Julian in Paris before studying independently with Edouard Toudouze and William Adolph Bouguereau. From 1910-1911, Gaspard made a lengthy honeymoon and sightseeing trip in Russia and Eastern Siberia. During World War I he served as a pilot in the French Aviation Corps. In 1916, Gaspard moved in New York and two years later settled permanently in Taos, New Mexico.

"Troops in Winter" dates from 1916, and relates to Gaspard’s memories of Russia. Van Deren Coke has noted that his color and sense of pattern “tie him to the exotic areas of oriental Russia. . . . he first demonstrated his masterful touch as a draftsman of great fluidity and animation while a teen-age student in Paris . . . . His style . . . was akin to impressionism without the scientific bent of the French impressionists. . . . Often his pictures were full to overflowing with masses of figures. [They] are enriched by the use of subtle shifts in viewpoint and frequently are cut off at the base of a composition, and seem to loom forward toward the spectator” (Taos and Santa Fe: the Artist’s Environment [Albuquerque, New Mexico: The University of New Mexico Press, 1963], p. 43-44).