This painting depicts a large cargo ship alongside a dock. It is flanked by two tugboats. The sky is overcast, but rays of light piercing the clouds reflect in the harbour’s greenish water.

Adrien Hébert

(Paris 1890 – Montréal 1967)


Port de Montréal

[Montreal Harbour]


Oil on canvas

85.1 x 77.6 cm

Gift of the Clerics of St Viator

Séminaire de Joliette collection

Musée d’art de Joliette

© Estate of Adrien Hébert. Photo: Musée d’art de Joliette

Adrien Hébert’s Port de Montréal [Montreal Harbour] depicts activity in the city’s port between the two world wars. Three vessels, a large cargo ship and two tugboats, all spewing black smoke, are depicted in a figurative style with clean lines. A greenish light pierces the clouds and illuminates the silos in the background. Hébert painted the harbour at a time when the landscapes and rural scenes, predominant in Canadian art, were gradually giving way to urban subjects. His celebrations of industrial progress made him one of the leading lights of modernism in Quebec.

Adrien Hébert, son of the sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert, studied in Montréal before attending the École des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, from 1911 to 1914. His works from that period show the influence of Paul Cézanne’s (1839-1906) geometric compositions. As an illustrator, he contributed to Le Nigog, a progressive cultural magazine that gave artists free rein to choose their subjects. Hébert chose to denounce regionalism in art and celebrate the modernization of society by painting urban scenes that highlight industrial architecture and the commercial activities associated with it.


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