Art and Art History
AUTOUR D'UNE EXPOSITION: TWO VIEWS...
LACROIX, LAURIER ET AL. Ozias Leduc: An Art of Love and Reverie.
MontrÃ©al/QuÃ©bec: MontrÃ©al Museum of Fine Arts and MusÃ©e du QuÃ©bec,
1996. 318 pp.
Ozias Leduc (1864-1955) was one of Canada's most intellectually interestÂ
ing artists as evidenced by the diversity of his subjects and eclectic style.
During his life he was recognized primarily as a muralist and decorator of at
least 28 Roman Catholic churches, chapels, and baptisteries in QuÃ©bec, the MariÂ
time provinces, and the New England states. Late in life and in death, he became
known as the artist with whom Paul-Ã‰mile Borduas had apprenticed, studied,
and by whom he had been inspired.
The present exhibition catalogue is the largest and most comprehensive to
date, and includes 255 works of art representative of his long life and prolific
artistic career (161 charcoal and graphite drawings, 89 oil paintings, two medalÂ
lions, two stained glass windows, and one pastel, comprising 59 landscapes, 47
portraits, twenty illustrations, twelve still life, 21 mythological scenes or religious
studies, and 96 preliminary drawings for his murals and church decorations). The
catalogue relies heavily on information and visual material from three earlier
exhibition catalogues by Jean RenÃ© Ostiguy (1974), Laurier Lacroix et al. (1978),
and Louise Beaudry (1986), and this reviewer's book, La DÃ©coration intÃ©rieure de
l'Ã©glise Saint-Hilaire (QuÃ©bec: MinistÃ¨re des Affaires culturelles, 1985)â€”all now out
of printâ€”as well as six unpublished M.A. theses and one unpublished Ph.D. theÂ
sis by Arlene Gehmacher (1995). Further information is culled from both secondÂ
ary and primary sources, most notably from the Fonds Ozias Leduc of the private
archives of the BibliothÃ¨que nationale du QuÃ©bec, MontrÃ©al (BNQ). The Fonds,
originally acquired in 1973 by the private archives of the Archives nationales du
QuÃ©bec, MontrÃ©al (ANQM), was catalogued by four graduate students (Sylvia
Antoniou, Victoria Baker, Janice Seline, and Craig Stirling) and Laurier Lacroix,
then a lecturer in the Art History department of Concordia University during the
1977/8 academic session. This was the primary research tool to access documents
from the Leduc collection from 1978-92, until Monique Lanthier recatalogued
the Leduc papers in unpublished manuscript form in 1994 (RÃ©pertoire-Inventaire
du Fonds Ozias Leduc). I mention this because nowhere in her prefatory essay,
which includes a brief history of the collection, does she acknowledge that the
Fonds had been previously catalogued.
The catalogue is divided into two parts. The first part contains an introducÂ
tion and three essays. Laurier Lacroix of the UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec Ã MontrÃ©al, a
Leduc enthusiast, who for over a quarter century has painstakingly combed
through the Leduc papers, pens the introduction (19-22) and an essay, "A Dream
of a Garden of Beauty" (23-31). FranÃ§ois-Marc Gagnon of the UniversitÃ© de
MontrÃ©al, who has published extensively on Leduc's most famous pupil, PaulÃ‰mile Borduas, writes on "Leduc and Modernism" (33-42). In fact, there isn't any
clear indication that Dr. Gagnon is arguing any particular point. One might inter-