Father Charles Chiniquy, 1841
oil on canvas
91.8 x 76.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 41427)
Photo © NGC
The Catholic priest Charles Chiniquy was one of the most flamboyant figures of his time. An outstanding orator, he was able to rally vast crowds, and the success of his sermons deploring the ill effects of alcohol earned him the nickname "the apostle of temperance." Chiniquy, undoubtedly the most celebrated model to have posed for Antoine Plamondon, is shown here at the height of his career, in an elaborate composition to which the artist has evidently devoted considerable care. Rather than the usual triangle or pyramid, the image is constructed around the perfect arc created by the two arms, surmounted by the regular oval of the face. It is through the dynamism of the forms that Plamondon has captured the churchman's essential nature - moral and physical - and brought his unique personality to life.