Monday, June 17, 2013

The Count Can Paint

Some Horse Country Chic readers are really well-connected.  One such Nashville-based equestrian told me about her very famous riding instructor who just so happens to be a world-renowned painter and a Count. Queen Elizabeth is a fan. So is Ralph Lauren.  The painter is Bernard de Claviere and he now lives in Nashville.  The Wall Street Journal has called him "one of the leading animal painters of the century."  Not bad kudos.   He looks like a Count, don't you think?  Here he is giving a lesson to Missy on Friday, somewhere near Nashville.  Did I mention that he is an expert equestrian.  Clearly he loves horses but wait until you see his paintings.....

And the horses love him too..........

Count Bernard De Claviere was born in Lyons, France in 1934 but surprisingly did not begin painting seriously until he was 35.  He paints animals:  horses, cats, dogs, white bears, tigers, elephants, dolphins, whatever.  The French government commissioned him to paint Queen Elizabeth II's favorite horse, Burmese (a painting he had to complete in just four days). The painting was presented to the Queen as a gift by the French government and now hangs in her private collection.  The Count has also painted portraits of the Queen's prize Corgi, Smokey, and Alybar, Prince Charles' steeplechaser.  The Count has a wonderful web site here.  His work is stunning to say the least.

The Count has said in interviews that he was most influenced by the art of George Stubbs and Jean-Baptiste Oudry, both renowned animaliers.   When he first ventured to America, he was hired to paint the famous Alydar by the then owner of Calumet Farms, J.T. Lundy.  He ended up commuting between Nashville and Europe as he became close friends with Nashville's Guildford Dudley, a former ambassador to Denmark who lived in the area.  Many portraits were produced for the riding elite in Nashville. The Count moved to New York in the late 80's where he was discovered again.

In 2002 the Count moved back to Nashville with his wife where he could once again dabble in his loves: painting, fox hunting and skeet shooting.  A few years ago he was asked to paint interior friezes for the newly built royal arena in Qatar, a billion-dollar, world-class horse arena being constructed.  His paintings are now held by owners in 140 countries.  Apparently he has not been painting much lately but Missy has informed me that he is now willing to paint for people again and he may even be willing to be flexible on his pricing as well.  SO, if you are thinking about a portrait this might be a real opportunity for someone!  You could be in the same league with the Queen!

Isn't his work divine!  And what an interesting and kind person he appears to be.  Thank you Missy for sharing him with us!


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