Petion Savain, Haitian painter, journalist and published author

Becoming Haiti's first recognized painter was undoubtedly no small feat to Petion Savain. Born in February of 1906, he didn't start seriously painting until 1927, having spent his life and time before teaching tin smithing, cabinet making and wrought iron at the same vocational school. He'd also had an interest in photography and reportedly dabbled in painting, having studied some drawing at school.


It was a brush with American painter, William Edouard Scott, in Haiti in 1930 to paint, that sparked Savain's lasting interest in the field he would be most remembered for. It is said he then taught himself to paint and created a style which would be copied by many later admirers. A Savain painting, recognizable by its distinct purples and pinks, or by the semi-circular or triangular aspects of crouched or sitting figures, is an uncommon luxury to own.

He advanced on his self-taught abilities between 1940 and 1943 as a student at the Art Students League, an education he would later pass on as an art teacher. He also studied techniques in fresco and mural, wood sculpture and tempera.

Parallel to achieving great things as a painter, Savain, who had earned a law degree at the Haitian School of Agronomy, also worked as a journalist and published author, having penned 'La Case de Damballah', published in 1939, and 'Les Oeuvres Nouvelles' published a year later.

Savain is thought of as one of Haiti's fathers of painting, a recognition that was shown by his Gallery of Science and Art award in 1939. Today, his works are on display in the United States in the Riverside and Grand Central Museums as well as the Corcoran Gallery.

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