Artworks and Artists
Cholera Plague, Quebec
Cholera Plague, Quebec,
c. 1832
Légaré, Joseph
oil on canvas
82.2 x 111.4 cm


In this work, the artist captures the terror provoked by the epidemic. Night-time heightens the feeling of anguish - a night barely lit by the moon behind the clouds and the sulphur burning in pots, placed along the streets with the mistaken belief that this would purify the air and prevent the disease from spreading.

The marketplace is the stage: on the left, a priest leaves the cathedral to minister to the dying; while on the right, a procession trails behind a hearse. The figures in the foreground portray various aspects of the tragedy: crying and despair, a disease-stricken figure collapsing to the ground and the cart where the dead are piled high. Although his studio was located near this marketplace, Légaré seems to have borrowed the architectural design from an 1832 print of a watercolour by British artist R.A. Sproule.