Four great elms with luxuriant foliage fill nearly the entire surface of this painting. At the foot of the trees are two small traditional green-roofed white houses. A white horse is pulling a hay wagon toward them.

Marc-Aurèle Fortin

(Sainte-Rose, Quebec, 1888 – Macamic, Quebec, 1970)

 

Ferme à Sainte-Rose

[Farm at Sainte-Rose]

between 1923 and 1930

Oil on canvas

99 x 140.7 cm

Gift of Cristina and Iain Ronald, 2008

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2008.229

© Estate of Marc-Aurèle Fortin / SODRAC (2018)

Photo: MMFA, Christine Guest 


The majestic elms of Ferme à Sainte-Rose [Farm at Sainte-Rose] are emblematic of Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s oeuvre. And despite the title, they are the real subject of the painting. The little hay wagon and the houses nestled at the foot of the towering trees heighten, by contrast, the exuberance of foliage so lush that it overflows the frame. The subject matter, a rural Quebec scene, is fairly traditional, but the freedom with which Fortin renders the elms and his choice of vibrant colours differentiate the work from more conventional academic landscapes and underscore its originality.


Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s production was as profuse as his elms. Fortin used a variety of techniques to depict colourful landscapes, both rural and urban, in which humankind always appears to be subject to nature. His practice ranged from oils, watercolours and pastels to drawing and printmaking. Despite a certain similarity between his works and the Post-Impressionism of an artist like Vincent Van Gogh (1854-1890), Fortin claimed affiliation with the Barbizon School and the art of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Edwin Holgate and Adrien Hébert.

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