Canadian Mosaic: George-Étienne Cartier

Beaverbrook Art GalleryApril 27, 20170 Comments

Canadian Mosaic: George-Étienne Cartier


The Beaverbrook Art Gallery has recently received the donation of a very rare sculptural portrait of Sir George-Étienne Cartier (September 6, 1814 - May 20, 1873). Cartier, along with Sir John A. MacDonald, served as co-premier of the Province of Canada. He was one of the Fathers of Confederation working diligently to create the nation of Canada in 1867, and now their portraits jointly adorn Canada’s new $10 banknote.

This sculpture was created in 1888 by Louis-Philippe Hébert (1850-1917), an artist, sculptor, and teacher who worked in Quebec. He was one of a small number of important 19th century Canadian sculptors and as a consequence was elected as an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in its founding year of 1880. He was engaged to create many portraits of prominent Canadians, including this fine representation of Cartier.

A sculptor would customarily first model the portrait in clay. Since clay will dry, crack and disintegrate, the completed work would have to be cast in another material in order to preserve it. The first stage was the creation of a plaster cast, such as this one. The plaster cast molds were made in order to create a version made by pouring molten bronze into the molds. Many sculpture enthusiasts greatly prefer seeing the original plaster cast instead of a bronze, as certain details are lost with each stage in the casting process. In short, the plaster cast is one step closer to the actual creation by the artist’s hand.

This work bears the inscription:

Constitution – 1867 – Le gouvernement est d’opinion que la confédération est nécessaire.

This sculpture was donated by François Beauchamp of Montréal and is a most fitting tribute to show during our sesquicentennial year.

George Étienne-Cartier is a prominent figure in Canadian history and a Father of Confederation, whose portrait is featured on the recently unveiled Canada 150 $10 bank note marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation.  This special $10 bank note will become available starting June 1.

How close are the two renditions? As luck would have it, visitors will get the opportunity to find out at our opening this Saturday! A special guest from the Bank of Canada will be present at the opening reception for the exhibition Canadian Mosaic to showcase the new banknote and the commemorative elements depicted on it, including Cartier!

Join us this Saturday, April 29, from 5-7pm for the opening of the exhibition Canadian Mosaic, and see this and other works celebrating 150 years of art from the permanent collection. 

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