National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 8, 1984-1985

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Henry D. Thielcke: A recently Found 
Portrait and some Reflections on 
Thielcke's Links with the English School

by Ross Fox

  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


23 Of some 257 known religious paintings by Plamondon, it has been estimated that only about rive or six were original compositions, ail dating from the 1840s. It has also been suggested that these original works were painted at least in partial response to Thielcke's practice; Plamondon wished to prove he could do the same. Porter, pp. 1, 17-19, 21.

24 "What is more disgraceful is to see the grimace that he gives to the Saviour. The bearing of the figure of Saint John exudes baseness and indifference; nothing is more monstrous or more ridiculous than to see him baptizing Jesus with his left hand, with his right hand resting lazily on his hip. His dove is most unfortunate; it is foreshortened and appears in an absolutely flat space; the light behind its tail produces an effect that anyone can only too easily interpret What we have just said applies to the composition only. Considered individually, the figures are drawn fairly acceptably, but the overall effect is perfectly awful. The head of Christ is bent so far toward the right shoulder that the neck appears as if it were broken. The drapery, which should play a significant role in an historical painting, is very poorly arranged; the folds are ail too even and too rounded. Unfortunately, Mr. Editor, the colouring is no better than the rest. This scene must have taken place in broad daylight and have been brilliant and luminous, yet there is no richness here to offset the poor composition and sorry drawing of the figures; a ruddy hue dominates the entire painting. Could it be that the artist is so afraid of the variety of colours, so necessary and so pleasing in a painting, that he used only red throughout? What could be more disagreeable, more monotonous, and more boring than this effect."

25 "Raving most certainly at heart only truth, justice, and the advancement of proper artistic principles, had we found some aspects of this painting worthy of attention, we would unhesitatingly have lavished praise on them and presented them to the public in the most favourable light."

26 Porter, pp. 18-19; Morisset, "Thielke au Bas-Canada," p. 2; Morisset, Peintres et tableaux, II, p. 106.

27 The Quebec Mercury, 12 May 1838, p. 2.

28 Yves Lacasse, The Way of the Cross of the Church of Notre-Dame de Montréal, exhibition catalogue (Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1984), pp. 28-34.

29 It is inscribed at the 1ower left, Hy. D. Thielcke / 1835.

30 Accession no.: 26538. Restored by Barbara A. Ramsay, Restoration and Conservation Laboratory, National Gallery of Canada, in 1981-82. Provenance: Charles Crawford Lindsay; Bernard Sauvé, Saint-Anicet, Quebec; purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1981. According to Robert J. Lindsay (letter, 5 August 1985), this painting came into the possession of his father, Charles Crawford Lindsay, about five years prior to his death in 1977, "having been sent to him by legal representatives of another branch of the family (Lindsay) who felt that he should have it as the senior living representative of the family." It is thought that it came from Hamilton Lindsay of Montreal or members of his family.

31 Pinks, of course, have no fragrance. This action is therefore imbued with a gentle irony, for the possibi1ity of a pink having a scent can on1y belong to the child's innocent imaginings. Here the artist has demonstrated a charming psychological insight into a reaction natural to smal1 children, who assume that all flowers must necessarily be fragrant. Thielcke was the father of a large family, and no doubt observed such responses in his own children.

32 R. H. Hubbard, Two Painters of Quebec: Antoine Plamondon 1802-1895, Théophile Hamel 1817-1870, exhibition catalogue (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1970), p. 75, no. 22.

33 Lacasse, pp. 27-28, fig. 3.

34 "It seems that this lady, totally absorbed in the future plans of her illustrious spouse, wanted to see whether a crown would really suit her, and thus took good care to have herself painted with a comb looking for all the world like a tiara. On seeing this painting, many people exclaimed it's still too soon! but as a great man once said, things move quickly in Canada."

35 C. Willett Cunnington, English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century (London: Faber and Faber, 1937), pp. 116-17.

36 Signed and dated on the verso in a manner similar to the Ottawa portrait, except that now Thielcke refers to himself as "Historical Painter" to the late Duchess of York.

37 Morisset, Peintres et tableaux, pp. 100-101; Gérard Morisset, La peinture traditionnelle au Canada français (Ottawa: Le Cercle du Livre de France, 1960), p. 138, reproduced following p. 79; Abbot Lionel Saint-George Lindsay, Notre Dame de la Jeune-Lorette en la Nouvelle-France (Montreal: La Cie de Publication de La Revue Canadienne, 1900), pp. 271-73, reproduced.

38 Charles Holmes, "The Heirs of Lawrence, 1825-1835," Burlington Magazine, LXIX, November 1936, pp. 194-201.

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