Leon Gaspard (1882-1964) was a Russian-born painter, known for his paintings of indigenous cultures. Much of his work was of landscapes featuring large groups of people and were set in his favorite locations (Russia, Asia, and the Taos Valley).
He pursued the study of art in his hometown, Vitebsk. He worked with a well known Jewish-Belarusian artist, Yehuda Pen. Gaspard and Marc Chagall became friendly rivals over a girl who later became Chagall’s wife. Gaspard pursued further studies in Odessa, and later his family sent him to Paris. He studied for almost eight years at the Academie Julian. While he was in Paris, his parents died but he was able to sell a few of his sketches thus beginning his career as an artist.
In 1908, Gaspard married Evelyn Adell, a wealthy American ballerina who was living in Paris. In 1914, he enlisted in the French Aviation Corps but was injured the following year inspiring his move to New York.
Gaspard and his wife moved to Taos so he could recover in a warmer climate. He found artistic success in Taos, which became well known for art during his lifetime. Gaspard always painted Russia and other far off lands instead of just the landscapes he saw in his new town. Leon Gaspard was well-known and successful in his lifetime. He continued to travel around the world looking for inspiration.
After his death in 1964, his work started gaining acclaim in 1982, when it was exhibited by the Fenn Galleries (now Nedra Matteucci) in Santa Fe. They continue to show his work and hold exhibitions. His work is also shown in New York and various auction houses where prices for his work have increased dramatically in the last ten years. In 2007, one of his paintings, The Finish of the Kermesse, sold for $2,001,000.