Jean Paul Lemieux
(Québec City 1904 – Québec City 1990)
Oil on canvas
197.2 x 380.4 cm
Commissioned with funds from Samuel and Saidye Bronfman, 1964
Confederation Centre of the Arts, CAG 64.27
© Estate of Jean Paul Lemieux. Photo: Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum
From the distance of a century, Jean Paul Lemieux’s Charlottetown revisitée [Charlottetown Revisited] evokes the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that laid the groundwork for the British North America Act. Three unidentifiable figures stand silhouetted against an immense orange-hued sky; between them appears the neoclassical architecture of Province House, where the meeting took place. The severe simplicity of the three tall, black-clad figures is a far cry from the usual group portrait celebrating the birth of a nation.
Although Charlottetown revisitée dates to 1964, it fittingly represents 1864 here. This painting is a reminder that the country’s founding has been portrayed many times, in a wide variety of styles and tones. Jean Paul Lemieux marked the Quebec art scene with his paintings, his teaching at École des beaux-arts de Québec, his art criticism and his illustrations for popular novels including Maria Chapdelaine (1913), by Louis Hémon (1880-1913). The stark landscapes in horizontal compositions that he began producing in the mid-1950s became hallmarks of his art.