This brightly coloured painting shows a man attired in Native and European garments and ornaments. He is represented half-length and looks directly at the viewer. Behind him are a forest of evergreens and mountains.

Zacharie Vincent

(Wendake, Quebec, 1815 – Québec City 1886)

 

Telari-o-lin, chef huron et peintre 

[Telari-o-lin, Huron Chief and Painter]

about 1875-1880

Oil and graphite on paper

72.8 x 51.3 cm

Gift of succession H. H. Lyman, 1915

© Château Ramezay – Historic Site and Museum of Montréal, 1998.1098


The self-portrait Telari-o-lin, chef huron et peintre [Telari-o-lin, Huron Chief and Painter] expresses a stylistic freedom and a vigorous use of colour that contrast with the classic landscapes and portraits of the period. Here, Zacharie Vincent borrows not only Western painting techniques but decorations of the dominant culture, like the medal depicting Queen Victoria. At the same time, though, he proudly wears traditional clothing and ornaments. In this way, Vincent upends the conventions employed by artists such as Paul Kane in Romantic representations of Indigenous peoples, while showing the adaptability and cultural métissage of the Huron Nation.


Zacharie Vincent painted quite a few self-portraits. He often depicted himself in a frontal pose, wearing a headdress bedecked with ostrich plumes and a Maltese cross resembling the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. Here the artist pictures himself for posterity in full regalia, a chief equal to the prince. Vincent’s oeuvre of more than 600 works has gradually found its place in the history of Canadian art. However, much remains to be done to ensure the same for the work of other Aboriginal artists and to nuance the romantic image perpetuated by artists of the time working in the European tradition.

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