SUPPORTING BREED EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
Riab lived in the Province of Bretagne for a period between 1927 and 1930, near the village of Callac where the breed was originated and where woodcock were plentiful and the hunting not so expensive during this particular era. The Epagneul Breton and the European woodcock are frequently depicted together in various art forms by French artists, and Boris Riab in particular was among the first to frequently pair the two in his paintings. Riab undoubtedly inspired other artists to do similar depictions of the breed in pursuit of this particular game bird. In addition to painting with oil, Riab also frequently employed watercolor in other works. The artist moved away from Bretagne after 1930 and lived in Paris for several years, subsequently moving to the tiny French hamlet of Mortonnieres in 1963.
Of interest to American Brittany enthusiasts, around 1950, Riab did a painting for the President of the American Brittany Club, Alan Rutherford Stuyvesant who was an early importer of the Brittany to the United States and was related to the Caraman Chimay family of France.
Boris Riab died in relative poverty in 1975 and never experienced the tangible benefits of his great talents as an artist.
Special Acknowledgement: The Foundation expresses appreciation to Honorary Trustee / Advisor Jacques François Bordet and his wife, Marie Thérèse Bordet, for their assistance in featuring this piece of art. The original is exhibited in the Bordets’ private art collection at their home in Aunac, France. The Bordets purchased this original painting after their close friend, Gaston Pouchain, the longtime president of CEB-France, introduced them to the artist. Because of his fondness for the Breton and the breed’s promoters of his day, Riab attended many of the French field trials and activities of the CEB-France during the 1960s. It was in the club setting that the Bordets became friends with Riab and his wife and visited them in the hamlet of Mortonnieres during the Riabs’ later years. Jacques Bordet took pleasure in providing the background information for this article recalling his friendship with Mr. Riab. He fondly recollects seeing partridges in the Riab garden, a favorite secondary subject of the artist which he often included in his compositions when he painted the Epagneul Breton.
The Epagneul Breton Foundation, Inc., displays artwork in its gallery to inform enthusiasts of the breed about historic and contemporary art and artists. Pieces of art are featured here periodically and then displayed in the online gallery.
Please contact us to suggest or submit additional items for display.
Photo courtesy of Jacques François Bordet and his wife, Marie Thérèse Bordet
Epagneul Breton and Woodcock
Previous Featured Art:
The artist known as Boris Riab (given name Boris Stepanovich Riabouchinsky), was born into Russian aristocracy in 1890. As a youth, Riab learned to observe nature and to hunt on his family's vast property north of Moscow. He showed a gift for drawing, bringing back sketches of his hunting trips. He studied drawing and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow, and learned French, English, German and Italian, languages that would serve him well in later travels. Because of the Bolshevik Revolution and the ensuing seizure of their land, members of his family sought refuge in Italy. Riab followed in 1920 and pursued his art career, specializing in animal paintings.
After several years of traveling the world through Great Britain, Canada and the United States, Riab returned to settle in France in 1927, where he would spend the rest of his life. Thus, some consider him more of a French artist rather than Russian.
This classic antiquated oil painting depicting an Epagneul Breton holding a European woodcock is one of Riab's more famous works. He undoubtably chose to capture the unique expression of the Epagneul Breton in possession of the favorite wild game bird in France, which the breed was initially bred to hunt. This head study, completed in 1959, reflects the typical morphology of the breed during that time.