Journal of Canadian Art History / Annales d'histoire de l'art canadien

Archive of past issues

Vol. XXX (2009)


Un nouveau regard sur le portrait de mère Catherine de Saint-Augustin

Michael O'Malley

Les restaurateurs de peintures entretiennent un rapport privilégié avec les œuvres d'art. Non seulement ils les explorent en profondeur lors des examens, mais ils participent à leur mise en valeur et à leur transformation lors des traitements de restauration. Ces transformations se révèlent tout particulièrement lors du dégagement de vernis assombris ou de surpeints qui masquent et trahissent le sens et la subtilité d'origine des tableaux. Ce processus de dégagement peut même, à l'occasion, dévoiler des surprises étonnantes. La restauration du portrait de Mère Catherine Simon de Longpré de Saint-Augustin (1632–1668) figure parmi ces exemples. Elle offrira, aux observateurs, non seulement la possibilité d'apprécier le fin travail de l'artiste et l'état réel de ce tableau, mais elle permettra également d'ouvrir la discussion sur sa provenance, afin de mieux situer son contexte artistique et historique.

translated summary:

A New Look at the Portrait of Mother Catherine of Saint-Augustin

Painting conservators develop a privileged relationship with works of art. Not only do they come to know them intimately during the course of examination and treatment, but they also participate actively in their transformation when layers of discoloured varnish or overpaint are removed. This process can occasionally reveal many surprises, as was the case with the portrait of Catherine Simon de Longpré de Saint-Augustin (1632–1668). The conservation treatment has enabled viewers to rediscover both the original painting and the fine work of the artist. It has also allowed the discussion around the provenance of the painting to continue, to situate it firmly in a historic and artistic context. The portrait of Mère Catherine de Saint-Augustin remains a precious object for the Augustine nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. For twenty years, Mère Catherine's generosity, devotion, and spiritual fervour made a lasting impression on the young French colony. She served the community first as a nurse, then as keeper and director-general of the hospital. Beatified by the Vatican in 1989, Catherine de Longpré stands out among the founders of the Catholic Church in Canada. Oral tradition relates that the portrait was made at her deathbed, following a period of poor health that claimed her life in May 1668 at the age of thirty-six.

The Role of Photography Exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada (1934–1960)

Andrea Kunard

Through the efforts of Director Jean Sutherland Boggs and James Borcoman, Acting Curator of the Collection of Photographs, the National Gallery of Canada began acquiring photographs as an artistic medium in 1967.1 Although this was a significant moment in the institution's history, the medium had a presence within the Gallery prior to that date. This article investigates the histories of photography exhibitions at the National Gallery from the Canadian-International Salons of Photographic Art of the 1930s to The Family of Man show in 1957 and particular attention is paid to how the institution incorporated changing notions of creativity, aesthetics and the photographer as artist. As I discuss, the six salons that took place from 1934 to 1939 accentuated the high aesthetic principles of photography, whereas in the early 1940s, the Gallery supported the display of propaganda themes as part of the war effort. In the post-war economy viewers were regarded as consumers and this led to another shift in emphasis. In particular, through the highly popular The Family of Man exhibition, photography was understood to affirm larger cultural ideals that emphasized the "universality" of white, middle-class American and, by extension, Canadian values.

Conceptual Lithography at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Jayne Wark

In 1973 the Dublin-born artist Les Levine wrote an article in Art in America in which he asked whether the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax just might be "the best art school in North America." Levine had spent time that year at NSCAD as a visiting artist and had encountered a milieu in which an experiment in radical pedagogy had transformed a provincial art school into a key centre for conceptual art. This transformation aligned NSCAD with the most challenging and vanguard art practices of the day and brought international acclaim. Paradoxically, however, one of its most important innovations was the reinvention of the traditional art of lithography as a medium for the critical questioning of aesthetic precepts and ideas: a questioning that characterized conceptual art. The formation of the NSCAD Lithography Workshop in 1969 was only one facet of the sweeping changes the school underwent at this time, but it was crucial as it provided both direct and indirect support for the total transformation.

Sources and Documents

L'Art Association of Montreal

Les années d'incertitude : 1863–1877 (Deuxième partie)

Jean Trudel

Les règlements du 12 mars 1864 définissaient le rôle du comité du bâtiment «whose duty it shall be to procure by lease or purchase, or by erection, such rooms, galleries or buildings, as may be needed for the purposes of the Association, and to see the same in order andrepair, and properly insured». C'est d'abord au Mechanics' Hall loué au Board of Arts and Manufacture for Lower Canada qu'eurent lieu les expositions de 1864 et 1865. Le comité avait aussi reçu le mandat de louer un bureau pour l'Association, ce qu'il réussit à faire en 1864 au même endroit au coût de cent soixante dollars par an, et on y apposa une plaque sur la porte portant l'inscription Art Association of Montreal. Faute de moyens financiers, l'AAM dut quitter ce bureau en mai 1865.

translated summary:

The Art Association of Montreal

The Years of Uncertainty: 1863–1877 (Part Two)

This article continues the discussion of the little-known activities of the Art Association of Montreal during the period shortly after its founding in 1860, published in the previous volume of the JCAH. In 1865, the AAM again resolved to find permanent premises for a gallery, an art school and other activities, possibly on Philips Square in downtown Montreal. It would only become a reality fourteen years later through a bequest by Benaiah Gibb. In 1864 and '65, exhibitions were held in the Mechanic's Institute and then at the Mercantile Library, which had also been one of the sites for the association's council meetings In order to encourage the construction of a major public art gallery and to determine methods for obtaining funds for a permanent building as well as the intention to institute a art permanent collection, a special meeting open to the public was held in late February 1868. There was also lengthy discussion on the merits of creating a school of art and design, which would expand upon the AAM's drawing class given by John Bell-Smith. The suggestion of the formation of an association of Canadian artists received a rapid, positive response.


Corresponding Influence: Selected Letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth

Linda M. Morra

Catherine Mackenzie

Almost a decade ago I had hoped to refer in a lecture to My-E-En, a painting in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by the Vancouver-based artist Vera Weatherbie (1909–77). Very little about her was readily accessible, other than frequent mentions of having been the "muse" and lover of Frederick Varley and later the wife of Harold Mortimer-Lamb. Not surprisingly, also wanting was anything substantial about the canvas itself, possibly a depiction of a Chinese fish seller, for which Weatherbie had received the Beatrice Stone Medal in Painting in 1934. This past summer, my quest again proved to be less than satisfactory, even if the Vancouver Art Gallery has a website post on Weatherbie's Portrait of F.H. Varley.