Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joyeux Noël

Détail d'un parement d'autel du XVIIIe siècle représentant la Nativité. 
95 x 260 cm.  Musée des Ursulines de Québec.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Outina Sells for €160,000

Outina, 58.5 x 42.5 cm, by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues?  Photo: La Dépêche.
An ink and watercolour drawing depicting Outina, the Timucua chief (fl.1564-1565), and attributed to Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (1533-1588) has just sold at auction in Toulouse for a staggering €160,000.  It had been estimated at a more modest but still impressive €50,000/80,000.  Local paper La Dépêche reported before and after the sale; a presale video can also be viewed. 

There is no question as to the correspondence between this figure and the one which appears on Plate XVIII of Theodore de Bry's Grand voyages (1591), accompanying an account of the Jean Ribault and René Goulaine de Laudonnière's ill-fated attempt at colonizing northern Florida in 1564.  This plate is one of 42 engravings, many of which show Timucua-speaking men and women who lived in northern Florida and southern Georgia, made after sketches by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues. Compare for yourselves:

BTW, De Bry explains this scene thus : "The women whose husbands have succumbed in battle or have died from illness have the custom of assembling on a day that seems to them most suitable to appear before their king. They approach him, overcome with grief, sit down on their heels, and covering their faces with their hands, they cry out and moan. They ask the king to avenge their dead husbands, to provide them with means to live during their widowhood and to permit them to remarry after the time laid down by law. The king, taking pity on them, grants their requests. They return home, weeping and wailing, as proof of the love they felt for their husbands. After having spent several days in mourning they carry their husbands' weapons and drinking cups to their tombs, then they start to weep again and celebrate other funereal ceremonies."
Correspondence between the two images notwithstanding, does that mean that the auctioned image is necessarily one of Le Moyne's lost original sketches?  Might it not be a mere copy of Le Moyne's original?  Or a copy done after the engraving?  The fact that the images mirror each other is a tantalizing hint that the watercolour is not merely derived from the engraving, and that it may indeed be the model... or a copy of the model. 

The trouble with the auction business is that it is a business.  Whatever research goes into identifying and documenting a lot is proprietary, and it is seldom made public.  In hyping this particular artwork, the auctioneer and the reporters after him rather conveniently glossed over the possibility that this piece may not be by the hand of the master himself, and they also conveniently occulted the fact that the very nature and authenticity of Le Moyne's work are, in fact, highly disputed by scholars.  Eminences such as  Christian Feest and Jerald Milanich have questioned whether Le Moyne produced drawings of the Timucua at all, given the absence of any definite documentation and the hard-to-explain presence on those images of what look to be Pacific seashells and Brazilian clubs.  At the very least, Le Moyne took liberties with his illustrations, perhaps considerable ones.  Milanich concluded that : "Until someone finds an actual, documented le Moyne drawing or painting of Florida Indians, I am going to assume we have been duped."  I wonder what he and Feest make of this latest find.  Is this the real deal?


Sunday, December 7, 2014

La France vend son consulat à Québec

La Maison Kent.  Photo: Encyclopédie du
Patrimoine culturel de l'Amérique française.

La Maison Kent, célèbre bâtiment du Vieux-Québec acheté en 1980 par la France pour y installer son consulat général, juste à côté du Château Frontenac, vient d'être vendue pour 2,75 millions de dollars, selon les sources du journal La Presse.  

Ben que nommée en l’honneur du prince Edward Auguste, futur duc de Kent et fils du roi George III, qui y a habité entre 1791 et 1794, cette maison remonte à la fin du XVIIe siècle.  Construite par les Chartier de Lotbinière, il s'agit de l'un des plus anciens édifices de la ville.  Il n’était cependant plus adapté à l’accueil du public des services consulaires, qui déménageront dans un immeuble plus fonctionnel.  Le groupe parlementaire France-Québec à l’Assemblée nationale déplore cette cession d’une maison faisant partie du « patrimoine historique du Québec ».


Friday, December 5, 2014

A webcam to get your rocks off

As of late, naughty Francophones and Francophiles typing the keywords "webcam" and "la belle" into their search engine may be disappointed to come across a jolie demoiselle of a rather unexpected sort.  The good folks over at the Bullock Museum, in Austin, have set up a livestream showing the reconstruction of Cavelier de La Salle's ship, La Belle. 

The live build of La Belle is broadcast every Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Outside of these hours, they stream very interesting documentary teasers.  Check it out here.  And don't worry, it is entirely office-appropriate.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Village Noël Temiskaming

Village Noel Temiscaming sous le thème de la Nouvelle-France à New Liskeard.
Photo: Radio-Canada.
Pour la toute première fois cette année, la ville de Temiskaming Shores, dans le nord ontarien, non loin de là où les Français avaient à la fin du XVIIe siècle établi le Fort Témiscamingue, s'est organisé un marché de Noël, le "Village Noël Temiskaming".  Une centaine de producteurs, d'artistes et d'artisans du Temiskaming ontarien et de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue québécois, confortablement installés au centre-ville dans une série de maisonnettes chauffées, ont proposé leurs créations au public cette fin de semaine.  L'événement, qui a attiré plusieurs centaines de visiteurs, visait notamment à promouvoir la culture francophone en Ontario.  Quoi que ce genre de marché de Noël soit de tradition germanique, c'est en effet la Nouvelle-France qui a été retenue comme thématique de cette première édition.  Quelques comédiens costumés ont animé l'espace.  Pour l'édition 2015, les organisateurs entendent marquer le 400e anniversaire de la deuxième visite de Champlain en territoire ontarien.

Radio-Canada fait un bref compte rendu de l'événement.


Monday, December 1, 2014

What a surprise

Le nouveau pont qui enjambera le Saint-Laurent conservera... (Photo fournie par Infrastructure Canada)
Champlain Bridge II.  Courtesy of La Presse.
The federal government has spoken : the new bridge linking the Island of Montreal to the south shore of the St. Lawrence beginning in 2018 will be named... Pont Champlain.

La Presse and Le Devoir announced it on Saturday.  Now on to the real, serious bridge debate: to toll, or not to toll?