Dog & Horse Fine Art
Jun 22, 2017 6:34PM

Rendez-vous of Borzois

-The world of animals is very essential to me. They create some kindness in our lives, and to paint them gets one closer to a sweetness in life that is disappearing every day.

- I wanted to paint animals, but had to find a technique….I went to an academy and fled, horrified.

-Count Bernard de Clavière d'Hust

A consummate artist, Bernard de Clavière accumulated distinguished clientele in 23 countries over the course of his career. Most well-known for his equine paintings, his portfolio includes many important canine paintings and wildlife of all kinds. The quintessential description of his paintings came from the artist himself: modern from a classical perspective.

In his last paintings the moon is rising in his well-recognized romantic 18th century style landscapes.  His French roots are evident in his porcelain-like painted surfaces and graceful S-curves, which are often found in French artwork. His process of photographing his subject, then discarding this documentation assured that he instilled the creative process into his paintings.  Bernard's technique, often combined with a magnificent scale, makes his paintings ripple with power and otherworldliness.

We are glad that Bernard lives on in his paintings.  He was such a consummate artist, pure in all respects. His life was one of an iconoclast: colorful, ruled by his fiery temperament, and luckily for us, consumed by a passion for animals.

He was born in Lyon, France, in 1934. When he was 4 years old, his father, a fighter pilot, was killed in a plane crash. It was around this time that Germany invaded France.  After his father’s tragic death, Bernard and his mother went to live with his widowed aunt and first cousin, Yoyo, at his fraternal home, Chateau de Noailles in the Limousin region of France. His family's roots in the region trace back to the 16th century.  At the family chateau Bernard had an extraordinary early childhood during the German occupation.  Although fortunate to live in luxurious surroundings and to have land for producing their own food, frugality was a way of life and the family witnessed terrible atrocities.

During World War II all automobiles were requisitioned by the government. Bernard’s family had a horse and cart for transportation. One day Bernard persuaded a friend to lead the horse under a tree, sans cart. Bernard dropped onto the horse’s back, and off they flew. Everyone said Bernard was born to ride. At age 9, Bernard completed his first paintings, of swans.  Both pursuits came to define the man.

While married to his first wife, Yolande, he had a son and a daughter and worked in advertising, banking and public relations.  On his own he pursued his passion for art, studying not surprisingly, George Stubbs, Jean-Baptiste Oudry and Poussin. When a beloved horse passed away, Bernard longed to paint his portrait. He knew he had to find his own technique independent from the traditions taught at the Academy. He studied painting with a respected artist from the Academy and with Etienne Polet, the chief restorer at Versailles.  In 1969, at the age of 35, he painted his first equine commission of a champion Standardbred filly for Count Pierre de Montesson, the President of the French Trotting Society.  This was the beginning of his artistic career.  In 1975, Bernard had his first sold-out exhibition in London.

In Paris he married Anne-Marie, whom he had known since childhood, his life took flight, moving back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean: Paris, France - Lexington, KY.; Belgium - New York City and Oyster Bay. This was a colorful time in Bernard's life. He had exhibitions from New York City and Palm Beach to Deauville, France.  

He completed numerous important commissions of racehorses Seattle Slew, John Henry, and Spectacular Bid, to name a few.  He was commissioned by the French ambassador in London to paint Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite steed, Burmese, and her Corgi, Smokey, with Windsor Castle in the background, as a state gift from France. This now hangs in Her Majesty's private collection in Buckingham Palace.

In Palm Beach in 1978, he met a former ambassador to Denmark, Guilford Dudley, who became a lifelong friend.  Dudley was from Nashville and shared Bernard’s passion for foxhunting.  Bernard was a great athlete, following the tradition of his grandfather, Count de Puysegur, whose hunt was one of the most popular in France.

In the late 1980s to the mid-1990s Bernard lived in New York City. It was during this period of his life that a Wall Street Journal writer discovered his work at an exhibition in the city and called him “one of the leading animaliers of the 20th century.”

In 1995, while living in Oyster Bay, Long Island, Bernard met his final wife, Barbara, a down-to-earth horsewoman, while both were riding. Barbara noticed Bernard because he rode his horse differently than an American. It was Bernard’s aforementioned friendship with Guilford Dudley that ultimately led Bernard and Barbara to move to Nashville. Bernard was to spend the longest part of his life in America there. While there, in addition to painting for collectors in the United States, Europe and South America, he was commissioned by Judy Forbis, the president of the Egyptian Society for Arabian Stallions, to paint Arabians for the Emir in Qatar.  Bernard completed commissions until his final days.

Bernard and Barbara relocated to Orlando, where Bernard passed away in September of 2016. He leaves his admirers a great and enduring legacy, with his art and philosophy.

His work can be found in the collections of the Prince of Wales, Lady Rupert Nevill, Mr. & Mrs. Edmund Vestey, Baron and Baroness Hubert Panz, Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Lauren, and Mr. & Mrs. Warrington Gillet, to name just a few of over one hundred important collectors around the world. Bernard’s paintings of important racehorses are in collections of the Keeneland Racetrack Association, the Kentucky Horse Park Museum, and the George Headley Museum. Calumet Farm has a series of his paintings depicting their Thoroughbreds.

- Art is the shortest road between life and the inexpressible… a horse is mysterious…

- People’s pets are their own private garden.

                                         - Count Bernard de Clavière d’Hust


Dog & Horse Fine Art