This painting depicts a winter scene set on the edge of a public square. In the foreground, three fur-clad men are gesturing in front of a man and a woman. Other figures are going about their business in the background.

Alfred Boisseau

(Paris 1823 – Buffalo, New York, 1901)


Des cochers à Montréal se disputent un client

[Montreal Cabbies: A Rush for a Fare]


Oil on canvas

68.6 x 112.7 cm

Purchased in 2009 with the Museum Campaign 1988‑1993 Fund

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2009.17

Photo: MMFA, Christine Guest 

Des cochers à Montréal se disputent un client [Montreal Cabbies: A Rush for a Fare] is set on Place d’Armes, a commercial and financial hub in the heart of 19th-century Montréal. Alfred Boisseau meticulously portrays three fur-clad cab drivers pitching their services to a well-to-do couple. The hustle and bustle that surrounds the scene and the fine attire of the ladies strolling in front of a shop are signs of a prosperous, flourishing city. Boisseau was well known for his portraits of prominent figures, including politicians like Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871), but here he illustrates a facet of Montréal’s economic life with a genre scene. 

In 1861, French-born Alfred Boisseau settled in Montréal, where he practiced photography and painting. His work reflects his training under the history painter Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) at the École des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. In 1885, Boisseau began teaching art at the school of the Conseil des arts et manufactures de Montréal. One of his students was Maurice Cullen, who went on to become an important Canadian painter known for his winter landscapes.


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