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The Martyrdom of Fathers Brébeuf and LalemantEnlarge image

The Martyrdom of Fathers Brébeuf and Lalemant, c. 1843

Joseph Légaré
Canadian, 1795 - 1855
oil on canvas
66.2 x 96.1 cm
Purchased 1977
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18795)

Although evidently intended to commemorate the event referred to in the title, this work is first and foremost a landscape. The artist has inserted the historical scene pictured in the centre - inspired by a well-known print - into a vista that bears no relation to the story. The setting is the countryside near Quebec City, whose unmistakeable rocky promontory can be seen in the distance, but the incident portrayed actually took place in Huronia, close to what is now Midland, in Ontario. Légaré devoted considerable effort to structuring his composition, and the result may be considered his most accomplished picturesque landscape.

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