O’Brien, Lucius Richard

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O’Brien, Lucius Richard

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Lucius Richard O’Brien (1832–1899) was a Canadian painter best known for his landscape paintings in oil and watercolour. Born near Barrie in Upper Canada, he attended Upper Canada College in Toronto 1844–1846, where he studied art under artist and architect John G. Howard. In 1856 he moved to Orillia, Ont. and then to Toronto in 1870. After a career in business, O’Brien began landscape painting in 1872. Lucius O’Brien was vice-president of the Ontario Society of Artists 1874–1880 and soon after became the first president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His contribution to the first annual exhibition of the Academy was Sunrise on the Saguenay, Cape Trinity (1880), among his most famous works. O’Brien was instrumental in 1876 in founding the Ontario School of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design University) and was the editor of the successful publication Picturesque Canada (1882–1884), which featured his own work along with that of other artists. His artistic travels took him from the Atlantic coast of Canada to the Pacific; he was one of the first artists invited to travel to and paint the Rocky Mountains on the newly completed Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886. The varied landscapes of the country are rendered in his paintings in a poetic realist style. His works are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and other public art museums. Lucius O’Brien married Margaret St John (d. 1866) in 1860 and Katherine Jane (Brough) Parker in 1888. No children were born of either marriage. He died in Toronto at the age of 67 and was buried in Shanty Bay, Ont near where he was born.


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Revised 7 November 2018


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