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Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Fire in the Port of Montreal, c. 1928 and Adrien Hébert, Montreal Harbour, c. 1927-30

The Port of Montreal is the subject for both these artists, but they each depict it differently.

Fortin views it from the outside, as if he is on the outskirts of the port, which is confined to the middle-distance, surrounded by the natural elements, that is, the water in the foreground and the sky and clouds in the background. The rather rectilinear patterns of the city and port are embedded within the more curvilinear natural elements, that is, the ocean and the sky. In this way, Fortin hopes to assert nature's persistence over the city, which he deems destructive to man.

With Hébert, it is the complete opposite. The artist depicts the environment in a positive light, glorifying the city and all its components. In his painting, the sky and water are but secondary components. Bridges and merchant ship cargo holds fill the middle-distance and foreground. The city stands rectilinear in the background. It is the industrial elements that surround and invade the picture and not the natural elements.