Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier

  • Interview with Jacques Cartier and Canadian chefs

  • Jacques Cartier discovers and ascends the St. Lawrence River in Canada in 1535

    GUDIN Jean Antoine Théodore (1802 - 1880)

  • Portrait of Jacques Cartier

    LEMOINE Auguste-Charles (1822 - 1869)

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Title: Interview with Jacques Cartier and Canadian chefs

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Dimensions: Height 7 cm - Width 10.5 cm

Technique and other indications: Collection Les explorateurs célebres Jacques Cartier 1494-1554 Publisher: Romanet. Jacques Cartier talks to Indians standing in the mountains. Medallion: portrait of Cartier in François I costume.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image Link to image:

Picture reference: 18-504918 / 1995.1.648.4

Interview with Jacques Cartier and Canadian chefs

© MuCEM, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / MuCEM image

Jacques Cartier discovers and ascends the St. Lawrence River in Canada in 1535

© Palace of Versailles, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Christophe Fouin

Portrait of Jacques Cartier

© RMN-Grand Palais / Agence Bulloz

Publication date: December 2019

Historical context

Canada's invention

Symbol of the rediscovery of a past common to France and Quebec, the mythification of the figure of the explorer Jacques Cartier (1494-1557) is all the stronger since no iconographic document on him has survived until 'ours. The partial continuity of national memory between July Monarchy, Empire and IIIe République maintains its legend sufficiently so that Cartier finds itself at the heart of an illustrated series around the great explorers ... French and British of the XIXe century. If a celebration project failed to succeed in 1835 for the tercentenary of the discovery of the St. Lawrence, it was not until the reissue of his travelogue in 1843 in Quebec so that Quebecers and French established the fame of "discoverer of Canada" of Cartier. .

Image Analysis

A man who made history

The three works summoned for the study, of a different nature (one print intended for mechanical reproduction and two oil paintings dedicated to public hanging), draw two facets of Jacques Cartier's gesture: the visionary solitary adventurer and the discovery of an unknown world, with its grandiose landscapes and exotic peoples.

The large-scale navy designed by Théodore de Gudin for the rooms of the Palace of Versailles majestically places the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, of which Cartier was the first to establish modern cartography. In the (exaggerated) vastness of these hard-to-approach rocky mountain landscapes, omnipresent water and endless skies, humans occupy only a small part of the image. In the foreground, the feathered natives peacefully greet the newcomers with an incongruous white flag; in the background, they go up the river in Indian canoes, as if they had already been adopted. More than a historical episode, the artist has endeavored to demonstrate his mastery of reflections and cloudy effects, as if only the distant landscape finally within reach of European eyes matters.

The portrait painted on an unknown date by Auguste-Charles Lemoine was inspired by Riss's original which owed everything to the artist's imagination. This portrait also inspired a copy of Théophile Hamel, dated 1844 (circa) - a time when the Canadian painter traveled to Europe, before returning home and making this painting a national icon. If the posture is exactly the same, facing the ocean and in his thoughts, against a background of sky and waves, Lemoine's version adopts very dark tones and becomes more realistic in the painting of the ocean. Period costume, or at least its representation in the 19th centurye century, fades here in favor of a face showing expectation. The framing in which no other character appears accentuates the explorer's isolation from the elements and fate. Unique piece and original version of a man deprived of an image, this portrait, copied several times and widely distributed in Canada, has all the features of a mythological icon.

The anonymous print published by Maison Romanet is part of a series of at least 19 images dedicated to the great explorers. All revolve around a medallion framed by laurels representing the hero celebrated with his dates, and a scene from his epic - unequal struggle against the natural elements or more or less happy encounter with the natives. Jacques Cartier, assisted by two other Europeans in the background, conducts here an "interview" with "Canadian leaders", when Duveyrier can only "palaver with the Tuaregs" and all the other adventurers are "in danger. Or "massacred". Placed on an equal footing, the two characters in typical costumes of the boards brought back from the New World welcome the envoy of the King of France within their mountains. The pastel colors of the series give a natural tone to an yet extraordinary episode, in a way normalizing the navigation feat achieved in the XVIe century to better underline the importance of the diplomatic event.

Interpretation

The myth of the Greater France

The series of prints does not offer, as one might expect, Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama, but only explorers of the XIXe century. The images kept at MuCeM suggest that the series was produced between 1904, the date of Stanley's death recorded on his portrait, and 1914, the date of Foureau's death (his portrait only mentions his date of birth. Besides the British Livingstone and his Compère Stanley, authors of the greatest discovery of the century, and the Portuguese Serpa Pinto, who recently died on the expedition, the series celebrates only the French and even includes a woman, Jane Dieulafoy. Jacques Cartier is therefore distinguished in several ways: he has led his expeditions to the XVIe century, survived his three crossings and the Canadian winter, enjoyed sufficiently peaceful relations with the natives to convince some to make the return journey with him. In this, he subscribes to the romantic idea of ​​a particular destiny of the French in America, distinct from the violence of the English. He is also at the origin of the characters of French "coureurs des bois" who populate the popular literature of western France.

Jacques Cartier is presented as a precursor, not of the discovery of new lands, but of the French settlement overseas. Its legend feeds two distinct nationalisms which have every interest in joining forces: that of French-speaking Quebecers who form a minority in the population of Canada, a British dominion; and that of the French who fought with all their might during the Second Colonial Age to win over British maritime power. Reactivating the forgotten figure of Jacques Cartier when the Navy takes a foothold in Algeria thus has the advantage of recalling French precedence in the matter. The name of the country (which means "town" in the local language) was extended by the Malouin to the whole region, which is ultimately considered more important than previous Viking settlements. It also legitimizes the new French ambitions in ... Latin America, from Napoleon III in Mexico in 1867 to the idea of ​​the Panama Canal launched in 1880 by Ferdinand de Lesseps. Finally, Cartier's Catholic (and non-Protestant) faith allows him to pass off as an evangelizer (which he was not really in fact). If in 1889 he was still the discoverer of Quebec City, in 1934, taken over by the federal state (English-speaking), he was that of Canada.

  • Quebec
  • Canada
  • Cartier (Jacques)
  • Museum of the History of France
  • Louis Philippe
  • exploration
  • Britain
  • boat
  • Native Americans
  • Mexico
  • Napoleon III
  • Lesseps (Ferdinand de)
  • Panama Canal

Bibliography

Alan Gordon, “Heroes, History, and Two Nationalisms: Jacques Cartier”, Journal of the Canadian Historical Association / Revue de la Société historique du Canada, 10 (1), 1999, p. 81-102.

Jacques Mathieu, New France. The French in North America, 16th-18th century, Paris, Belin, 1991.

Jacques Robert, "The invention of a hero", in Fernand Braudel (ed.), The world of Jacques Cartier. The adventure in the 16th century, Paris / Montreal, Berger-Levrault / Libre expression, 1984, p. 295-306.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Jacques Cartier"


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