Pomp and Circumstance

2009-10-13, from Member

Sherbrooke, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 - Beginning Saturday October 24th, the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke presents a travelling exhibition developed by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec: Hairstyles and Fashion in Québec. Portraits of Women, 1790-1860. Daniel Drouin, Curator of Early Art before 1850 and in charge of the Inuit Art Collection at MNBAQ chose from the rich collection of early art of this museum, paintings and objects that truly represent the style of the era. The exhibition will provide the local population with the chance to view rarely seen works of early art from this prestigious national collection. The vernissage will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday 24 October and the exhibition will continue until 10 January 2010.

The exhibition: Hairstyles and Fashion in Québec. Portraits of Women, 1790-1860.

Between 1790 and 1860, ninety per cent of the population of Lower Canada was rural and homogenous. The remaining ten per cent, those with influence, included the landed gentry, or seigneurs, a large share of Québec's clergy, many prosperous merchants, and numerous liberal arts practitioners. The ladies of this firmly established bourgeoisie enjoyed being seen and assigned great importance to appearance, elegance in particular, as exemplified by the portraits painted by Canadian and foreign artists of the time, such as Louis-Chrétien de Heer, François Malepart de Beaucourt, Louis Dulongpré, Gerritt Schipper, Anson Dickinson, Gerome Fassio, James Bowman, Joseph Légaré, Antoine Plamondon, Samuel Palmer and Théophile Hamel. Elaborate hairstyles, sumptuous dresses and costly and extravagant accessories were the pride of these society women of all ages whom portraitists from here and abroad sought to brilliantly capture on canvas.



Antoine Plamondon. Madame Joseph Laurin, née Marie-Louise Dallaire, 1839

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is proud to present this introduction to the art of hairstyling and fashion between 1790 and 1860 based on a selection of full-scale portraits and miniatures from its collections. Silver and gold pieces, jewellery, photographs and furnishings provide a bridge between the works by giving visitors a glimpse of the public and private spheres inhabited by the sophisticates of that era.

The art of portraiture in the colony

Between 1790 and 1860, portraiture grew by leaps and bounds in the colony, especially within the ranks of the ever-rising bourgeoisie, eager to flaunt their social ascent and success. However, buying into this trend meant expense and the search for a talented artist. Purchasers' decisions on the latter count were considered a reflection of their taste and wealth and proof of their membership in an elite circle.

The colony's art community consisted of a few dozen artists of various origins whose training and natural gifts covered a wide range. For example, Québec portraitist Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy was self-taught, whereas Antoine Plamondon, from the same hometown, studied in the Paris studio of Paulin-Guérin, the King's Painter for Charles X. In addition to these established painters and draughtsmen was a number of other American and English artists, such as American portraitist James Bowman, who traveled the highways and byways of Lower Canada seeking commissions.

Naturally, the amounts artists charged for their services depended on the techniques they used, but even more so on their reputation. The going rate for an oil portrait by Montrealer Louis Dulongpré was between $25 and $30, while Quebecer Théophile Hamel's work commanded a sum of $50 to $200. Clients with lesser means settled for pastelists, silhouettists or miniaturists such as the Corsican Gerome Fassio, whose drawings cost eight dollars or so. Beginning in the early 1850s, photography gradually stole a sizable share of the portrait market because of its affordability-between $1.50 and $4 per photo.

Credits

The exhibition is produced and toured by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), a State corporation funded by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec. Credits include Project Director: Line Ouellet, Director of Exhibitions and Scientific Publications, MNBAQ; Curator: Daniel Drouin, Curator of Early Art before 1850 and in charge of the Inuit Art Collection at MNBAQ; Tour coordination: Louise Dubois, Touring Exhibition Coordinator, MNBAQ; Graphics conception: Marie-France Grondin, MNBAQ; Linguistic revision: Marie Parent; Translation: Colleen Bilodeau

The Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, 241 Dufferin Street, is open Tuesday to Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. Entrance fees : $7,50, adult, $6, senior, $5, student. Guided tours in French every Tuesday at 2 p.m. English tours and group tours available anytime upon reservation. The Musée is supported by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec and Ville de Sherbrooke.


Source:
Lise Boyer
Communications
MBAS
819 821-2115
lboyer@mbas.qc.ca 
www.mbas.qc.ca 
 
 

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