The Fabulous Destiny of the Paintings of the Abbés Desjardins
June 15 to September 4, 2017
Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday to Friday • 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: Adults $18 /Seniors (65 and over) $16 /Ages 18 to 30 $10 /Ages 13 to 17 $5 /Children (12 and under) Free
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Parc des Champs-de-Batailles
Borough of La Cité-Limoilou / Downtown
Québec , QC , G1R 5H3
This exhibition in 2017 will highlight the bicentennial of the arrival in Canada of some 200 paintings initially done by renowned artists for churches in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries. These paintings, confiscated during the French Revolution and reunited by clergyman Philippe-Jean-Louis Desjardins, were shipped to Québec City to be sold to the rapidly growing parishes and religious congregations at the time. Fairly unfamiliar in France, this important body of religious paintings was researched recently. The history of the paintings is marked by two major periods—their use in France, and their 19th century use and impact in the Province of Québec. First, thanks to recent discoveries in France resulting in new attributions, more is known about the background for their creation. Several big names in French painting were involved, artists such as Claude Vignon, Simon and Aubin Vouet, Frère Luc, Charles-Michel-Ange Challes, Jean-Baptiste Corneille, Daniel Hallé, Pierre Puget, Michel Dorigny, Louis Boulogne le jeune, Joseph Christophe, Pierre Dulin, Samuel Massé, Jean-Jacques Lagrenée, François-Guillaume Ménageot and Matthias Stomer, several of whom were French Court painters.
Philippe-Jean-Louis Desjardins, through his brother Louis-Joseph, chaplain to the Augustines de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, was very aware of the situation of Québec churches. The clergy and religious communities were booming and did not have sufficient art of devotional calibre. In 1817 and 1820, nearly 200 paintings made the voyage to Québec. They would go on to be reframed and sold on site before being placed in various churches and chapels. Alongside this, a new cohort of Canadian artists such as Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy, Joseph Légaré, Antoine Plamondon and Théophile Hamel would get their training by restoring French works and copying them at the request of sponsors, thereby making up for the shortage of painters in the British colony. This period saw the birth of Canadian painting, but also the creation of the first art collections in Québec and the appearance of the first museum.
A selection of some 40 French paintings and 20-or-so Québec copies of French masterpieces that have disappeared, as well as of genuine Québec work, will be on display in the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion using contemporary staging. Only the French paintings from the Québec exhibition will cross the ocean again in the fall of 2017, bound for the Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes, the MNBAQ’s partner in this great museological adventure.