Analyze closely the color scheme of this watercolor. In general the scene was painted in tones of gray, black and ochre. The trio of red, yellow and green pigments was placed in strategic areas around the composition. These brighter chromatic colours invite the viewer to travel around the painting. The white of the unpainted paper describes the light, which, along with color is the real subject of the painting.
I like the loose feeling of the brush strokes and uneven staccato lines. The historic weathered buildings in Old Montreal lend themselves to a sketchy treatment of the architecture. However, this was probably a result of the urgency to draw and paint fast and furiously in cold weather!
Some historic notes merit mentioning:
- This is the chapel of 1771, built over the ruins of the first stone chapel of pilgrimage whose foundations were recently uncovered.
- Here, officers of the British regime considered setting up barracks to house the military.
Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of Montreal, donated the land for the original chapel.
- Marguerite Bourgeoys was the first teacher and founder of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. In 1655 she rallied the colonists to build a chapel of pilgrimage outside the settlement.
- A stone chapel was finally erected in 1675.
In 1754 fire ravaged the first chapel.
- The British garrison included Irish and Scottish families who attended services at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. It was from this community that money was raised to begin construction of Saint Patrick’s, Montreal’s first English parish.
- In 2005, the 350th anniversary of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours was especially joyful when the “mother of the colony” returned to the chapel in Montreal’s historic district where she had lived as a beloved friend and valued counsellor to all. Her remains were placed in the left side-altar below the statue of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.
I invite you to take the time to visit the web site http://www.marguerite-bourgeos.com/ for a more detailed history of the chapel.
Finally, a visit to Old Montreal would not be complete without a visit inside this historic chapel filled with most beautiful artworks by some renowned artists. Take the time some day to do so. And bring along your sketch book! You might even feel like saying a prayer of thanksgiving, if you feel so inclined, for the early settlers of Montreal who left us such beautiful art.
Raynald Murphy sca