Represented in profile on his skis, his toque well adjusted on his forehead and to the colours of his pants, this skier is rushing down a fairly steep slope. A mitten keeps the skier’s left hand warm; it is curved and holds a ski pole. Two triangles simulate an evergreen forest. Two large flakes in the sky confirm that it is snowing on the trail.

The artist produced a long series of these ceramics on clay, created on rectangular shapes, including several winter scenes and others inspired by the habits and customs of the Indigenous populations living in Northern Canada.

As for the artist, Jean-Jacques Spénard, he was born on June 27, 1913, and baptized the following day in Trois-Rivières under the first names Joseph Jean-Jacques Maurice. He was the son of Arthur Spénard and Florette Nobert.

Among his friends since adolescence, Spénard forged links with Louise Panneton, the daughter of Dr. Auguste Panneton, Louise Robichon, and Harvey Rivard (1913-1995), who would go on to have a long career as a photographer.

J.-J. Spénard studied ceramics at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, which had a ceramics department since 1935. One of his professors was Pierre-Aimé Normandeau (1906-1965), a graduate of the École supérieure de céramique de Sèvres. As of 1945, this department would fall under the École du meuble. Newly graduated, with the financial support of his parents and the building talent of one of his uncles, Frank Nobert, Jean-Jacques realized his dream of having his own ceramic kiln in a building adjoining his home on rue Saint-François-Xavier in Trois-Rivières.

In 1940, the Revue du Québec industriel, Arts et métiers du terroir reported on Spénard’s talent and work, specifying that “[he] produces pieces that are of the purest terroir and where good taste in no way yields to the local character of his creations.” In November of the same year, he left for Chicoutimi to assume a position as an instructor at the École de poterie du Saguenay, a school founded under the direction of the cooperative of local Catholic unions, in cooperation with a youth assistance program.

The magazine Architecture – bâtiment – construction, in its April 1954 edition, devoted a few lines to the artist. On page 33, a photograph shows him applying the metallic oxides that form the colours in the glaze of a ceramic piece on which he was working. On page 35, a ceramic wall fixture that he produced is presented.

In 1963, Jean-Jacques Spénard was chosen to create a fully ceramic monument in memory of Father Jacques Buteux. This monument was unveiled in Trois-Rivières in November in the presence of dignitaries in the area of the city where the former Saint-Pie-X church was located.

Spénard also taught for several years at the École des Beaux-Arts de Québec. Among his students was Thérèse Brassard (1926-2008), a native of Roberval and the recipient of several art awards over the course of her international career. This artist also gave lessons in ceramics and enamel techniques, particularly to Mariette Cheney of Trois-Rivières, who in turn mastered the art of expressing her creativity and talent with this medium.

The ceramic artist married Berthe Barrette in 1943 in Trois-Rivières; they had two children, Suzanne and Pierre. Jean-Jacques Spénard died in Quebec City on February 16, 1996. His funeral was held in Trois-Rivières.

Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1991 1121 S