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Introduction

In 19th century Europe, history paintings were considered to be the pinnacle of high art. The development of distinctly Canadian historical paintings is deeply indebted to Joseph Légaré; he is considered to be the first painter of contemporary Canadian events. At a time when the emerging visual arts in Canada were mainly focused on religious votive paints and topographical studies, Légaré focused his art on the narrative landscape and events that he deemed important to be remembered with works such as "The Burning of the Parliament Building in Montreal" (1849); "Cholera Plague, Quebec" (1832) and "The Battle of Sainte Foy" (1854). While the technical aspects of Légaré's art is undoubtedly influenced by Europe, he is primarily known for his many important contributions to the history of Canadian art. He gave the events of Quebec, in particular, a voice in history.