Jean Paul Lemieux
CC QMG RCA
1904 - 1990
Hommage à Katie F.
oil on canvas
signed, titled and dated 1971 and on verso signed, titled, dated and inscribed "Donné à Anne" and "LEMJ.005"
48 3/4 x 20 in 123.8 x 50.8 cm
Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000
Collection of Anne-Sophie Lemieux, daughter of the Artist
Sold sale of Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's Canada, November 6, 1991, lot 98, titled as Hommage à Katie Fusch
Galerie d'art Michel Bigué, Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts
Private Collection, Montreal
Patrick Nagle, “Timeless Painter from Quebec,” Weekend Magazine (Montreal), March 16, 1963, page 18
Marcel Dubé, Jean Paul Lemieux et le livre, 1988, page 80
For the painter Jean Paul Lemieux, childhood was a time of joy and light: “the age of perfect happiness” (translated from the French), he asserted. His fondest memories of those happy times were connected with family vacations at Kent House (now Manoir Montmorency), a luxury hotel situated on the promontory of Montmorency Falls, near Quebec City. Beginning in early childhood, from 1905 to 1914, Lemieux stayed there during the warmer months. The manor and its parkland, adorned with a fountain and bandstand, provided a delightful and relaxing setting. Later on, this location would embody not only an earthly paradise for the artist but also the moment he discovered painting, from an American artist who would work at his easel in the estate gardens.
When he was nearing the age of 60 and motivated by a tender melancholy, the painter reconnected with those glorious days at Kent House. To someone who asked if he would ever return to the site of those childhood summers, transformed more than once over the years, Lemieux responded: “Never return to places you have once loved, comme dit l’adage [as the saying goes].” To revive his childhood memories, Lemieux made use of old photographs and newsreels, “which give you the feeling of being immersed in the past” (translated from the French). In 1962, he painted 1910 Remembered (private collection), and then, three years later, L’été de 1914 (in the collection of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec), works in which he is featured, at the ages of 6 and 10. Recognized today as iconic pieces of Lemieux’s artistic practice, these works initiated a cycle of reminiscences that continued beyond what is commonly known as the artist’s classical period (1956 to 1970). Not until 1979, with the album of 15 lithographs Time Remembered, published by Mira Godard Gallery, would the artist bring this cycle connected to his happy childhood to an end.
Surprisingly, renderings of Kent House in Lemieux’s paintings are rare, despite his profound attachment to the place. Only two other works make reference to it, and they are little known due to being held in private collections for decades. It was not until an auction at Heffel in spring of 2018 that the world learned of the existence of a landscape featuring visitors strolling through the grounds before the hotel’s Palladian façade (Le temps retrouvé, Kent House 1913, 1972). In 1991, Sotheby’s offered our work at auction, titled as Hommage à Katie Fusch, a work that from its creation Lemieux intended for his daughter Anne-Sophie, as noted in the inscription on verso.
The tribute paid to Katie F. possesses its share of mystery. In veiling the name of the subject and reserving the portrait for his daughter, then 26, Lemieux must have intended the mystery to be preserved. From the top of her long dark silhouette, exaggerated by a child’s perspective, Katie F. looks out with the gentle gaze and rosy smile of a woman from the artist’s past. Her right hand holds a piece of sheet music for "Fascination," a waltz from the Belle Époque whose melody was composed in 1904, the year Lemieux was born. The clarity of the page echoes the ruffled collar and slender cuffs of lace that adorn the plain black belted dress worn by Katie F.
In the lower part of the composition, stretching from left to right in the background, is a luminous frieze representing Kent House, its park and its elegant fountain on a beautiful summer day. Women in light dresses stroll with their parasols; one joins a man sheltering under a straw hat. Do the notes of "Fascination," one of the most beautiful popular love songs of the twentieth century, waft from the bandstand situated a bit farther into the park? Does Katie F.’s music warm the sky, whose vastness evokes the depth of bygone years? It matters not that history with a capital H has forgotten the name of Katie F. In paying her this tribute, the artist celebrates her role in the story of his happy childhood.
We thank Michèle Grandbois, author of Jean Paul Lemieux au Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, for contributing the above essay.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS WORK HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN FROM THE SALE.
Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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