M21212 | Montreal from St. Helen's Island.
Montreal from St. Helen's Island.
James Duncan (1806-1881)
About 1852-1853, 19th century
Watercolour, graphite and gouache on canvas
43 x 62.2 cm
Gift of Misses Lambe
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Painting (2229) , painting (2227)
In this watercolour, Montreal and its harbour are depicted from across the St. Lawrence River near the landing pier on St. Helen's Island. The domed building in the centre with the neo-classical facade is the newly-erected Bonsecours Market - an unmistakable landmark since its completion in 1852. A wide variety of boats and ships has been depicted, some in dock and some travelling on the river. The steamship Montreal can be seen in midstream : built in 1841 at the Sorel shipyards by Thomas Boyd, the Montreal was 247 feet long and 25 feet wide and made the Montreal-Quebec run from 1841 until 1853, when it was lost at Batiscan during a snowstorm. This watercolour is a fine example of Duncan's mature technique of painting panoramic views and cityscapes. In spite of the fact that the city itself is depicted in great detail, the setting remains idyllically rural. The spontaneity of the artist's style, achieved through a rather loose brushstroke, enables him to capture the moment and offer us a lively, vivid scene. (Extract from: GRAHAM, Conrad. Mont-Royal - Ville Marie : Early Plans and Views of Montreal, McCord Museum of Canadian History, p.135.)