Red-coated British soldiers are guarding a group of naked people waiting amid crates and bags, as a smaller group is escorted to anchored ships. The background shows the ocean and ships at the left and a coastal landscape at the right.

Mario Doucette

(b. Moncton 1971)

 

La dispersion des Acadiens (d’après Henri Beau)
[The Expulsion of the Acadians (after Henri Beau)]
2006

Pastel, ink, pencil and acrylic on wood

76 x 106 cm

Purchased in 2010

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2010.4

© Mario Doucette. Photo: Mathieu Léger


Mario Doucette’s La dispersion des Acadiens [Expulsion of the Acadians] is a direct quotation of a scene painted by the Quebec artist Henri Beau in 1900. Both works deal with the deportation of 10,000 Acadians by the British authorities in 1755. However, Doucette depicts the captives completely naked, in reference to the way the Acadian people were stripped of their land and possessions. By omitting their clothing, he also underscores the scant information existing about the expelled community. His naive style pares down the depiction to keep only the essentials: the deportees.


The Acadian artist Mario Doucette is based in Moncton, New Brunswick. His work shines a light on the existence of people ignored in the construction of official history. To this end, he reinterprets history paintings that deal with the past of his native province, creating works that show a different version of events. One of his strategies consists of inverting the protagonists’ roles, for example, by depicting First Nations people as crusaders invading Europe.

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La dispersion des Acadiens [The Expulsion of the Acadians] by the Quebec painter Henri Beau refers to the epic poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia (1847), by the American author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). The poem recounts the tribulations of a young woman named Evangeline, separated from her beloved in the process of the Acadian deportation. Beau pictures her waiting to be put on one of the ships visible in the background. She is standing at the centre of the composition, wrapped in a burgundy cape. This painting won the bronze medal at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition.

Henri Beau

(Montréal 1863 – Paris 1949)

 

La dispersion des Acadiens

[The Expulsion of the Acadians]

1900

Oil on canvas

238 x 355 cm

Gift of University of St. Joseph’s College

Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton, 65-9-10

Photo: Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton