As a child, Leon Schulman Gaspard traveled with his father, who traded furs and rugs, throughout Siberia in Northern Russia. It was during these journeys that Gaspard began to sketch the wild, primitive world of the indigenous peoples of the arid Siberian Steppe. His mother, Zyra, was an accomplished pianist, and Gaspard's parents encouraged his artistic interests.
Gaspard pursued art in his hometown, Vitebsk, Belarus until his family sent him to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. He remained there for nearly eight years. While in Paris, his parents died and he no longer received an allowance. It was at this time that Gaspard began to sell his sketches.
While in Paris Leon met Evelyn Adell, an American ballerina. In spite of her parents objections she married him and they spent their two year honeymoon on a horseback adventure across Siberia.
In 1914 Leon joined the French Aviation Corps. The following year his plane was shot out of the sky and Gaspard, without a parachute, jumped from his plane and landed in a water filled shell hole on the battlefield. His injuries from that event were serious and the effects lasted throughout his life.
After the war Gaspard continued painting and traveling. In the 1920’s Gaspard and Evelyn moved to Taos, New Mexico where Leon joined up with other artists to become a successful partner in the Taos Society of Artists. His work continued to depict Russian and Siberian peoples and scenes as well as landscapes and the native peoples of New Mexico.
Gaspard became well known as an artist. His work work gained notoriety with shows in New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
After his death a number of well known galleries held shows including the Fenn Galleries in 1982, the Gerald Peters Gallery in 1984 and the Barry Hill Galleries in 1986.
In 2007 his 1918 painting, The Finish of the Kermesse sold for more than $2million.
THE CALL OF DISTANT PLACES
Absolute happiness can be achieved by good fellowship, and good conversation, and a drink of vodka.” - Gaspard