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Jean Paul Lemieux

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On November 19th, 2004, I woke up to two nice surprises.  The first one was to see Denmark all snow-powdered, a bit early for the season, but enough to remind me of the upcoming winter and Christmas Season.  The next one was that the mailman brought me this year's first Christmas greeting card from a friend in Canada, who had included a nice present:  the latest miniature sheet of paintings by the Canadian painter Jean Paul Lemieux, issued at the occasion of a Special Exhibition - Homage to Jean Paul Lemieux, 22 October 2004 - 2 January 2005. 

The exhibition was organized in honour of the centennial of the artist's birth, displaying 50 paintings and drawings by this remarkable Quebecois painter to demonstrate, among other things, the artist's unique contribution to the revitalization of landscape painting in Canada.  The exhibition opened at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, and will travel to other Canadian museums, starting with the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in early 2005.  

Canada 2004. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Souvenir sheet.  1) Self-portrait 1974..  2) Summer 1959.  3)  A June Wedding.

In a presentation sheet, that was included in my friend's Christmas Greeting, Ms. Anne Sophie Lemieux writes, among other things, about her father:

I cannot help but wonder how my father, faced with the latest horrors, would have expressed on canvas the anguish that gripped him ever more firmly as he contemplated a third millennium shaped by the madness of men.  This profoundly good person, though possessed of a sense of wonder and a capacity for fun that highlighted his work with touches of humour, was deeply troubled by the human condition.  It is not surprising that he should have been so receptive to the creations of the great Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, whose revelation of man's fragility often moved him on the visits we made to Europe's major museums when I was a child.  Sometimes, on our return from these trips to the Louvre, the Prado or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, he would be so dazzled by the paintings of the great masters that he began to doubt his own talent.  I also recall that the Symbolists made him uneasy -- he whose subjects, grounded initially in Realism, were to become increasingly Expressionist.  

My father exhibited many times and in many places throughout his long career, and I have had the pleasure of helping to disseminate his work both in Quebec and beyond.  Recently I collaborated on the production of an album consisting of a series of twelve postage stamps representing the the country's provinces and territories as envisioned by my father.  

For your viewing pleasure these stamps are shown below.  They were issued in 1984 in a sheet of twelve stamps, in celebration of Canada Day.  The stamps being rather small -- 4,00 * 2,7 cm -- and therefore difficult to see properly in a normal scan, I have scanned them oversized for a better view.  Here is a scan of the original sheet. The link will open in a new window. 

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Landscape in British Columbia.

British Columbia
Much of the mainland region was originally known as New Caledonia; however, this name (duplicated in the South Pacific) was discarded in favour of British Columbia.  The designation appears to have originated with Queen Victoria and was officially proclaimed in 1858. 

Columbia (after the Columbia River which was named by the American Captain Robert Gray for his ship Columbia ) had previously been loosely applied to the southern portion of the colony.  

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux "Landscape in British Columbia".  

The Yukon territory was established on June 13, 1898, although the name, of Amerindian origin, was first applied to the river and is from Yukun-ah, meaning "great river".  

It was first noted in 1846 by John Bell (1799-1868) an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, "who called it by what he understood to be its Indian name".  

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Church in Yukon Territory". 

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Church in Yukon Territory.

The North West Territories 
can be divided into two broad geographical regions: The taiga is the boreal forest belt that circles the subarctic zone below the "treeline." The tundra is a rocky Arctic region where the cold climate has stunted vegetation. NWT includes Great Bear Lake (31,328 sq km, eighth largest in the world); Great Slave Lake (28,568 sq km, tenth largest in the world) and the Mackenzie River (4,241 km long, Canada's longest). The ancestors of the Dene Indian people lived in the Northwest Territories some 10,000 years ago, and were joined by the Inuit who are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait about 5,000 years ago. European expeditions in the 1570s were the first recorded visits to the Northwest Territories.  

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Landscape in  North Western Territories.  

Fur trading began in the late 1700s and whaling in the 1800s, starting a process of substantial change for the Inuit. Stable communities grew around trading posts, mission schools and Royal Canadian Mounted Police stations. 

Going further east the landscape becomes more sloping: the Prairies of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. 

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Landscape in North Western Territories". 

The district of Alberta was created in 1882, and enlarged to become a province of Canada on September 1, 1905. 

The name was suggested by the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883, in honour of his wife, H.R.H. Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria, and named after her father, Prince Albert.  

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux: "Landscape in Alberta".

 Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Landscape in Alberta.  

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Cornfields in Manitoba.

The region was created as a province in 1870, and the name was probably first applied to Lake Manitoba. There are two theories as to the origin of the name. 

(1) It is of Assiniboine origin: Mini and tobow meaning "Lake of the Prairie", or in French "Lac des Prairies", the name used by La Vérendrye. 

(2) The more probable source is the Cree maniotwapow, "the strait of the spirit or manitobau ". This refers to the roaring sound produced by pebbles on a beach on Manitoba Island in Lake Manitoba. The noise "gave rise to the superstition among the Indians that a manito or spirit beats a drum".  

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Cornfields in Manitoba".  
The name Saskatchewan is derived from that which was first applied to the Saskatchewan River. In the Cree language it was known as Kisiskatchewani Sipi, or "swift-flowing river".  

The explorer Anthony Henday's spelling was Keiskatchewan, with the modern rendering, Saskatchewan, being officially adopted in 1882 when a portion of the present-day province was designated a provisional district of the North West Territories. Achieved provincial status in 1905.   

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Winter in Saskatchewan".  

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Winter in Saskatchewan.

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. View of Toronto (Ontario).

The name Ontario was first applied to the lake (1641) and is traceable to Amerindian sources. It may be a corruption of Onitariio, meaning "beautiful lake", or Kanadario, variously translated as "sparkling" or "beautiful" water.  

Later European settlers gave the name to the land along the lakeshore and then to an ever extending area. "Old Ontario" was a term sometimes loosely applied to the southern portion of the province. Entered the Confederation as the province of Ontario, 1867. 

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "View of Toronto" (Ontario). 

The name Quebec was applied first to the region of the modern city and the word is of undoubted Algonquin origin. Early spellings: Quebecq (Levasseur, 1601); Kébec (Lescarbot, 1609); Quebec (Champlain, 1613).  

Champlain wrote of the location in 1632: "It ... is a strait of the river, so called by the Indians" - a reference to the Algonquin word for "narrow passage" or "strait" to indicate the narrowing of the river at Cape Diamond. The term is common to the Algonquin, Cree, and Micmac languages and signifies the same in each dialect. 

  • Canada 1984.  Jean Paul Lemieux:  "View of Quebec". 

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. View of Quebec.

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Church in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia
The name Nova Scotia was first applied on September 29, 1621, when Sir William Alexander (1567?-1640) received a grant of "the lands lying between New England and Newfoundland ... to be known as Nova Scotia, or New Scotland", the name did not become fixed on the map until after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.  Prior to this, the name Acadia was generally used by the French to denote the Maritime provinces along with adjacent portions of New England and Quebec. 

The origin of the word Acadia is in dispute. It is generally accepted to be from Archadia (Acadia), assigned by Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 and suggested as the classical name for a land of rustic peace. The claim that it is of Micmac origin is probably coincidental. The Micmac word Quoddy or Cady was rendered by the French as cadie and meant a piece of land or territory.

Read more about Nova Scotia and the famous schooner "Bluenose", originating in Lunenburg, NS. 

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Church in Nova Scotia".  

New Brunswick
Originally the territory included in modern New Brunswick was part of Nova Scotia. The American Revolution from 1775 to 1783 resulted in a large influx of Loyalist settlers, and agitation arose for the creation of a new province. On September 10, 1784, the partition took place and the "name was chosen as a compliment to King George III (1760-1820) who was descended from the House of Brunswick."  

Earlier proposals for naming the new province were: New Ireland (suggested by William Knox, Under Secretary of State, but rejected "because Ireland was out of royal favour"), and Pittsylvania, for William Pitt, then British prime minister. Canada 1984.  

  • Canada 1984.  Jean Paul Lemieux: "Landscape in New Brunswick".  

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Landscape in New Brunswiick.

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Sunset at Prince Edward Island.

Prince Edward Island
The island appears under the name Île de Saint Jean in Champlain's narrative (1604) and on his map (1632); however, according to Ganong, the name is of earlier origin.  

After its acquisition by the British in 1759 the island was known as St. John's Island until the name was changed in 1798 to honour Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1767-1820), father of Queen Victoria, then in command of the British forces at Halifax. Separated  from Nova Scotia in 1769, Prince Edward Island entered Confederation on July 1, 1873. 

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Sunset at Prince Edward Island". 
Although Newfoundland is one of the oldest place names on the eastern seaboard, its evolution may be easily followed. It was the "new founded isle" of John Cabot who sailed westward from Bristol in 1497; although Norsemen, Basques, and Bretons (among others) had undoubtedly preceded him. 

By 1502 "New found launde" was being used in official English documents with the French version "Terre Neuve" appearing as early as 1510 - a clear indication of the acceptance of the designation.  Giovanni da Verrazano used the term "Terra Nova" on his map of 1529. Newfoundland entered the Confederation as the tenth province of Canada on March 31, 1949.  

  • Canada 1984. Jean Paul Lemieux:  "Winter Landscape in Newfoundland".  

Canada 1984. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Winter Landscape in Newfoundland.

Canada 1974. Realism/Naturalism. Jean Paul Lemieux. Nativity.

To round off this page, I would like to show you the first stamp Jean Paul Lemieux has designed for Canada, which appeared already in 1974 as that year's Christmas stamp. 

Compare this stamp to the self portrait above, and you will see his typical brush stroke of highly stylized figures against a very light background.

  • Canada 1974.  "Nativity" by Lemieux. 

All stamps world wide showing Lemieux-paintings are shown on this page, which -- at least for the moment -- is a complete collection of this painter's works as issued on postage stamps.  

This web page first appeared on my ancient website "Travelling the World on Art Stamps", presenting Canada and the provinces through her art.  

Sources and links:   

Other Realist artists on this site: 

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