This genre scene represents a traditional French-Canadian house flanked by a blacksmith’s shop. On the left, horse-drawn sleighs are arriving. Another is stopped in front of the house. A man is leading his horse into the forge, and several people are hurrying toward the house.

Cornelius Krieghoff

(Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1815 – Chicago 1872)

 

The Blacksmith’s Shop

1871

Oil on canvas

56.5 x 92.1 cm

Gift of Mrs. J. H. Mitchell in memory of her mother, Margaret Lewis Gooderham, 1951

Art Gallery of Ontario, 50/13

© Art Gallery of Ontario


The Blacksmith’s Shop is one of the last works painted by Cornelius Krieghoff. Blurred by falling snow, the winter genre scene depicts activity around a blacksmith’s shop as horse-drawn sleighs arrive. Travellers bundled in snow-covered clothes are climbing the steps to the farrier’s house for a rest stop, while one man is leading a horse to the forge. Sleighs, horses, dog and garments are all meticulously detailed. This picturesque painting, emblematic of Krieghoff’s style, is featured on a stamp issued by Canada Post in 1972.


Born in Amsterdam, the prolific painter Cornelius Krieghoff enjoyed considerable success after moving to Québec City from Montréal in 1853. His clientele was the growing middle class. An astute businessman, Krieghoff had some of his works reproduced as prints in order to satisfy demand and increase his income. The subjects he was most fond of painting were the everyday life and customs of French-Canadian habitants and First Nations peoples. Those gaily quaint scenes contributed to defining many French-Canadian and Indigenous stereotypes.

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