Ozias Leduc, autoportrait, 1899
Born at St-Hilaire, Quebec, Ozias Leduc, began to paint with Luidgi Capello, an Italian painter who had done church decoration for many churches in Quebec, in the decoration of Saint-Paul l’Ermite church. Later Leduc became associated with Adolphe Rho in the decoration of the church of Yamachiche. Most of Leduc’s art training was acquired through the process of observation and self-teaching. In 1892 Leduc entered a panting in the Art Association of Montreal annual show. It was during this year and the next that he did decorations for the Joliette Cathedral. In 1897 he sailed for France in the company of Suzor-Côté. There Leduc became considerably impressed with lesser known Impressionists, Alfons Mucha and Le Sidaner. He returned to Canada and set to work on decorations for the church at St. Hilaire. He made his living mainly from church decorations of which he did more than one hundred and fifty paintings for about twenty-eight cathedrals, churches, or chapels.
Leduc was a primary influence on his student Paul-Émile Borduas, who would later lead artists committed to abstraction. « It is a struggle between rebel matter and thought » wrote Leduc. « It is through this struggle that human beings perfect their intelligence and penetrate even further into the order of Nature ».
During the earlier part of his life Leduc did a number of portraits as well as landscapes. He also illustrated books.
The portraits and other works were done with oil on paper, oil on cardboard, oil on canvas. He did a surprising number of oil on cardboard paintings. He kept track of his pencil drawings which were at times done on the back of envelopes and sometimes numbered.
In 1892 Leduc won a prize for the best work done by an artist under thirty at the Art Association of Montreal annual show. In 1916 he was elected Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy and in 1938 received the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Montreal.
Leduc is represented in the following public collections: Museum of Quebec, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Canada
Source: Anne Newlands, Canadian art from its beginnings to 2000, Firefly, 2000; Colin S. Macdonald, A dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 3, 1975