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


Vol. XXV (2004)


Jeanne Leber
Recluse and Embroideress (1662–1714)

In the late afternoon of August 5, 1695, Montreal witnessed a ceremony unique in the religious history of New France. Jeanne Leber, the thirty-three year-old daughter of the prosperous merchant Jacques Leber, joined the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame as a recluse. The previous day, a notarized contract had been signed, setting out the parties' commitments: in exchange for a dowry that would finance the completion and furnishings of the convent's new chapel, the nuns would allow Jeanne to live in a cell built behind the altar. Thus, after vespers on the feast day of Our Lady of the Snow, a clerical procession escorted the young woman, accompanied by her father, from the family home on Saint-Paul Street to the Congregation's chapel. There, the Grand Vicar Dollier de Casson, Superior of Montreal's Saint-Sulpice Seminary, pronounced a blessing and having exhorted Jeanne to persevere, led her to the cell where she shut herself away. This public act took place against the strains of the litanies of the Blessed Virgin sung by an assembly of Montreal clergy, Sisters of the Congregation, and "other persons from outside." Jacques Leber alone was absent from this final ceremony as he was too distressed to see his only daughter become a recluse. The next day, August 6 — the Feast of the Transfiguration — the new chapel was blessed and a solemn mass was sung, accompanied "by all the symphony that Canada could muster." In attendance were "a great many People," now including Jacques Leber "who, though unable to attend the Entrance ceremony, due to a surfeit of emotion, came the following day to attest that, despite his Overwhelming fatherly love, he was willingly consecrating to God … his very dear daughter."

Œuvres datant du régime Français à l'église paroissiale de Saint-François-du-lac au Québec
Un ensemble iconographique concerté?

translated summary:
Works dating from the french regime in the parish church of Saint-FranÇois-du-lac, Québec
A Concerted Iconographic Ensemble?

The parish church of Saint François Xavier of Saint-François-du-Lac dates from the mid-nineteenth century; but the tabernacle and the paintings in the choir derive from the original stone church built during the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The tabernacle, produced in 1722 by Jean-Jacques Bloem, called Leblond, is the oldest surviving adornment; and according to parish records, the three paintings in the choir date from at least 1740. The painting on the high altar represents The Miracle of Saint Francis Xavier while those in the side chapels to the left and the right are, respectively, Saint Joseph Carrying the Christ Child and the Immaculate Conception. These paintings have not previously been studied in detail, although as this article demonstrates, they display an iconographical symbolism and meaning that are unusual for the period. It should be noted that historical documentary sources for these works are limited and none provide the name of the artist or the particular circumstances surrounding the paintings' production. In the absence of archival data, this analysis of the dedications, the iconography and the physical nature of the work, enables a new and feasible interpretation of the ensemble.

Les séjours au bas-Canada de Lady Mary Louisa Elgin

translated summary:
Lady Mary Louisa Elgin's sojourns in Lower Canada

In 1967, during the celebrations marking the hundredth anniversary of Confederation, the National Gallery of Canada presented the exhibition A Pageant of Canada. On this occasion, the sketchbook of Lady Mary Louisa Elgin (1819–1898) was shown for the first time. Lady Elgin was the eldest daughter of John George Lambton (1792–1840), 1st Earl of Durham and his second wife Lady Louisa Elizabeth Grey. In 1846, Mary Louisa married James Bruce (1811–1863), 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, who also became the Governor-General of United Canada from 1846 to 1854.

The Department of Fine Art at the University of Toronto, 1926–1945
Institutionalizing the "Culture of the Aesthetic"

In June 1934, John Alford, a British lecturer from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, was engaged as the first Chair of Fine Art at the University of Toronto. His appointment concluded an exhaustive search that took over six years; it involved two of the University's presidents Robert Falconer and his successor, Henry John Cody, as well as a host of art specialists in Canada, the United States and England. The appointment of Alford also brought the University into a cultural-funding alliance with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the trust organized by Scottish steel magnate Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to broadly promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States."

Jeannette Meunier Biéler
Modern Interior Decorator

The professional career of Montreal decorator Jeannette Meunier Biéler (1900–1990) was brief; nevertheless, her work was exceptional in Canada because she promoted the most progressive design trends emerging from France and Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Trained in art and design at the Ecole des beaux-arts de Montréal, she developed her ideas through her studies, her working contacts and from international magazines. Biéler sought new directions by breaking with traditional approaches in design and drawing inspiration from European models. Although examples of her work are few and there are no archival records of her clients, her drawings and the furniture she designed for her family attest to the originality of her work in the field of Canadian interior decoration.

The Canon Unbound

This article is the last in a series of four examining the role that reproduction programs at the National Gallery of Canada and later the Canada Council, played in defining the idea of Canadian art and the symbolic imagery of nationhood. Together, the texts provide an in-depth examination of national reproduction programs of Canadian art between 1928 and 1970, the external factors that shaped them, and their enduring legacy. In this article, I will discuss the last phase of the Sampson-Matthews silkscreen project and the continuing impact of these reproductions through an analysis of their circulation in the art market between 1970 and 1996. "The Canon Unbound" examines the Markgraf reproduction programs, the final stage in the National Gallery's forty-year involvement in the promotion of Canadian art through the use of high-quality reproductions. The Gallery's collaboration with the Markgrafs began, not surprisingly, with reproductions of the stalwarts of the Canadian canon but eventually came to include contemporary Canadian art. This article also examines a final national silkscreen project: the Canada Council/Markgraf partnership, which focused exclusively on the reproduction of contemporary Canadian art.


A National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s–1930s
Marylin J. McKay

Marylin McKay's much-needed book on mural painting in Canada responds to an absence of literature on the history of mural art in this country. The book is not a survey of Canadian mural production as one might expect and is not, therefore, organized for easy reference by artist, subject, year, theme, or location.

Arthur Lismer: Visionary Art Educator
Angela Nairne-Grigor

Arthur Lismer (1885–1969) was a man of many parts - an artist trained in the traditions of a late nineteenth-century English art-education system, an evangelist in the promotion of the work of the Group of Seven and nationalist Canadian art, and an innovator in the field of art education. As an art educator working primarily in Toronto and Montreal, Lismer inspired generations of art students and instructors. Lismer's contemporaries were interested in what he had to say, and this is supported by the detailed reports of his ideas in the many newspaper accounts of his cross-country lecture tours of 1932, 1935 and 1940, the first two on behalf of the National Gallery of Canada. He further elaborated upon his views in his numerous articles published between 1930 and 1950, as well as in lectures given during his travels in Europe and beyond. For Lismer, the history — or perhaps more accurately the development — of art, and the "release of child expression in the arts" were inextricably linked.