(Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf, Quebec, 1845 – Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, 1928)
Gilded wood, iron
287 x 111.8 x 81.3 cm
Gift of George Levallée, 1945
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec collection, 1945.20
Photo: MNBAQ, Patrick Altman
This Neptune figure was carved for the façade of a Québec City tavern called the Neptune Inn, a popular haunt of sailors. Standing with one hip slightly cocked, the stern-faced figure holds a long trident. His simple sailor’s garb contrasts with his crested helmet. Neptune may seem unusual today, but at the time artists commonly produced works to be used as signs for businesses. Sculptors like Louis Jobin were hired to craft pieces ranging from commercial work to religious sculptures.
The Quebec sculptor Louis Jobin worked in many different fields: liturgical furniture, church decoration, ship figureheads, signs, secular and religious statues, ice sculptures. The decline of naval sculpture, the introduction of imported products, the advent of industrialization, and fierce competition obliged Jobin to vary his practice throughout his career. His body of work is a reminder that sculptors had to adapt to market demands just as painters did. For painters, this often meant producing illustrations.
MUSÉE NATIONAL DES BEAUX-ARTS DU QUÉBEC
179 Grande Allée West
Québec (Quebec), G1R 2H1
Louis Jobin’s religious sculptures are among his best-known works. One of them, Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay [Our-Lady-of-the-Saguenay], is a colossal ex-voto, 7.5 metres tall, executed in 1880-1881. It was commissioned by Charles-Napoléon Robitaille (d. 1897), a travelling salesman who escaped death in the frigid Saguenay River after praying for the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The giant figure stands on Cape Trinité, in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. To get the statue to the top of the steep cliff, it had to be cut into fourteen pieces.