Antoine Plamondon (1804–1895) and Religious Painting
The Role of the Copy and of Personal Interpretation
Isolated from the centres of European art, the artists of Lower Canada were able to acquire the rudiments of their art, and at the same time to satisfy the needs of parish churches and of religious orders, by copying paintings and engravings brought to North America under the French régime. Before the end of the eighteenth century the practice of copying had become a common one in Lower Canada. For various reasons, historians of Quebec art have tended to neglect this phenomenon. In the case of Antoine Plamondon, for example, although his portraits have been much studied, more than half of his œuvre consists of religious works, and Plamondon considered his copies of these historical scenes by other artists to have been of greater importance than his own original portraits. He perceived the copy as being intimately linked to the original, which was, in turn, an object oftremendous admiration. When satisfied with his copy, Plamondon considered it representative of the attainment of an ideal, while his contemporaries automatically associated his virtuosity in the achievement with that of the model on which it was based.