This exhibition represents the challenge of writing history from works that have been poorly documented and rarely exhibited. Selected at random, these portraits were offered as deposits to the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ) during its first years of operation, meaning they were long-term loans that were never officially acquired through the usual donation protocols. Nearly 1400 objects in the MAJ collection have an ambiguous status and require standardization. Today, over half of these are in the process of being acquired.
The exhibition’s somewhat rudimentary hanging brings to mind the painting racks in the MAJ’s vault. It also highlights some of the work carried out this past winter in collaboration with a scientific committee appointed to assess these objects, with the goal of either officially integrating them in the collection or returning them to their owners. This process is not to be taken lightly: the history of the MAJ collection, as guardian of these ancient treasures, will forever be changed as a result, and the endeavour raises an entire series of ethical questions that must be respectful of both the MAJ and the depositors. Which of these original objects have a connection with the museum’s foundation and its religious history? Which ones keep the museum’s original mandate alive, such as supporting emerging artists from the Lanaudière and Québec regions who were close to Father Corbeil?
The selection of works presented here, all centered around the portrait, draw from the overall group of works currently under review. But the portrait is just one of the many pictorial genres to be found among these deposits, which also include secular and religious furniture, natural specimens, and many more items. While these portraits represent an overview of Québec art from the past 150 years, they also emphasize the importance of activating research on historical, religious, and secular art as a way of looking back on the history and trajectory of Québec art.
Presented in their raw state, these works draw attention to the issues and concerns around the conservation, restoration, and presentation of art within the museum context. They are open to scrutiny and to our contemporary gaze, with no additional glorification. Many of the artists and the individuals they portrayed remain anonymous. We invite you to contribute to our research by identifying them or sharing any information you may have on these works.
We would like to extend our special thanks to the standardization team: Jean-François Bélisle, Florence Brissette, Joanne Chagnon, Nathalie Galego, Laurier Lacroix, Paméla Plamondon Deliard and Pierre Vincent.
Julie Alary Lavallée
Read wall labels
Joseph Dynes (1825 – 1897)
Jean-Alfred Faniel (1879 – 1950)
Raymonde Gravel (1913 – 1993)
Robert Laframboise (1921 – 2002)
Ludger Larose (1868 – 1915)
Sœur Marie-Arsène (Poméla Latour, 1858 – 1931)
T. Marchand (s.d.)
René Émile Quentin (1860 – 1914)
Jean-Baptistes Roy-Audy (attribué à) (1778 – 1846)
Ludger Ruelland (1827 – 1897)
Ippolito Zapponi (1826 – 1895)
Image in the banner:
View of the exhibition Standardizing: The Portraits, Musée d’art de Joliette, 2021. Photo : Romain Guilbault.