Kenderdine, Augustus (1870-1947)

Augustus Kenderdine, “The Buffalo Hunt,” 1915, oil on canvas, 59.7 x 90.2 cm, MacKenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina Collection, gift of Estate of Dr. John B. Ritchie.
MacKenzie Art Gallery 1974-016

Augustus Frederick Lafosse Kenderdine, a painter of landscapes and portraits, was an energetic organizer who participated in building post-secondary fine arts education in both Saskatoon and Regina. His sweeping romantic depictions of the Saskatchewan landscape, particularly the northern areas around Emma Lake, were indelibly marked by his training in England and France. His imagery recast the province's topography in the comforting image of Europe. As a teacher he influenced generations of landscape painters, among them Wynona Mulcaster and Reta Cowley. Kenderdine's passion for the “wilderness” of northern Saskatchewan, and his enthusiasm for attracting people to his summer art camps, corresponded with the beginnings of a tourist industry. Born in Charlton-upon-Medlock, England, Kenderdine first studied art with his godfather, Chevalier de la Fosse, a Belgian-born painter and photographer; then he apprenticed to local artists before establishing the business “Gus Kenderdine: Photographer and Art Dealer” in 1890. From 1890 to 1891, he studied with Jules Lefèvre at the Academie Julien in Paris. A turning point in his career occurred when his work was included in the Paris Salon and the Royal Academy's Annual Summer Exhibition in 1901. By this time, Kenderdine had married Jane Ormerod and had four children. The family immigrated to Canada in 1908 and homesteaded near Lashburn, Saskatchewan. Kenderdine was preoccupied by the rigours of farming and ranching until 1918, when he turned his farming operation over to his son. He started painting again, and during this period secured several portrait commissions.

Augustus Kenderdine.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A7982

In 1920 Kenderdine met the University of Saskatchewan's first president, Walter Murray, who planned to build an art program. He provided studio space in the Physics Building, where Kenderdine could work and teach. In the 1926-27 term, Kenderdine began to teach non-credit classes which, by 1933, had become credit classes. In 1936 he established the University Art Camp at Emma Lake (the forerunner of the Emma Lake Artists' Workshops). In the same year, a School of Fine Art was established at Regina College by Norman MacKenzie who, as part of his bequest, appointed Kenderdine as the School's first head and curator of the gallery. Until his death, Kenderdine lived in Regina, returning each summer to Emma Lake. Kenderdine exhibited his work across Canada, but was best known in Saskatchewan. In 1991, the Kenderdine Art Gallery, located at the University of Saskatchewan, was named in his honour, thanks to a bequest by his daughter, Mae Beamish. His works can be seen in many public collections, notably: the Glenbow Museum, Calgary; the University of Saskatchewan permanent art collection; the MacKenzie Art Gallery; the Mendel Art Gallery; and the National Gallery of Canada.

Helen Marzolf

Further Reading

Bell, K. 1991. Augustus Kenderdine 1870-1947. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan.