Saturday, August 15, 2015

Joseph Legare

View of the Fire in Saint-Jean District of Quebec City, Looking West
oil on canvas
81.3 x 110.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Joseph Legare (1795-1855) was a painter and glazier, artist, seigneur and political figure in Lower Canada. He was the first landscape artist of French-Canadian origin. The eldest son in a family of six children, he was born in Quebec City, the son of a cobbler. Due to the financial success of his father as a business man, the family became relatively wealthy as a result. Around 1819, he became a fine-arts painter. Self-taught and he never went to Europe for training. He learned by copying the work of others.

In all he painted more than 250 oils on canvas or paper, including about one hundred religious copies, occasional portraits, some rural scenes and contemporary events, some remarkable historical tableaux and native Indian subjects. He worked ceaselessly to promote fine arts in Lower Canada, and after 1845 was one of the greatest supporters of the creation of a national gallery. A Lower Canadian nationalist, he tirelessly promoted humanitarian, social and political goals. His activities included a stint as member of the first Quebec City municipal council (1833-36).