- L'Assemblée des six-comtés (painting)
"L'Assemblée des six-comtés" (French for "The Assembly of the Six Counties"), also known as "Manifestation des Canadiens contre le gouvernement anglais, à Saint-Charles, en 1837" ("Demonstration of the
Canadiens against the English government, at Saint-Charles, in 1837"), is a large oil paintingexecuted on canvasby Ontarian artist Charles Alexander Smithin 1890.
It depicts the
Assembly of the Six Counties, an event in 1837, part of the history of Quebecand the Patriote movement. It is displayed in the permanent exhibition of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québecin Quebec City.
The picture includes many elements of what is known about the Patriote movement and their time. It features a number of Patriote leaders, upon the stage at the right, with accurate appearance. Patriote leader
Louis-Joseph Papineauis shown in a speech to the crowd. At the bottom right stand three flags. From the left, the first represents the influence the Patriotes received from the French Revolution, the second is the Patriote flagand the third embodies the admiration of the Patriote for the American Revolution. The Patriote flag remains a visual leitmotivacross the composition.
The right field profusely displays
maple leafs, a symbol of the French Canadians of the time (they have now been discarded by their modern-day Québécoisand Quebec nationalist successors because of their appropriation by the Canadian federation). In the same section is the Coat of arms of Quebec, leaning upon the wooden stage structure (one anachronistic detail, as this version, contemporary to the painting's execution, is the first arms of Quebec post-Confederation, granted in 1868).
The crowd, mesmerized and invigorated at the same time by Papineau's much celebrated oratory skills, holds many signs reading nationalist and independence slogans. Many in attendance wear the
tuques and ceintures fléchées belts characteristic of the Patriote symbology. The Colonne de la liberté stands tall in the background (the one from Henri Julien's and the contemporary replica appear much shorter). Finally, a very young girl at the immediate left-of-the-middle evocatively stares at the spectator.
It was commanded to Smith to display in the chamber of the Legislative Assembly in the Parliament of Quebec City. However, the government of
Premier of Quebec Charles-Eugène Boucher de Bouchervilledid not accept it and the work was passed unto various owners before finally becoming part of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec collection.
Located in room 10 ("Salle 10"), it is a part of the permanent exhibition of Quebec history-related art called "«Je me souviens». Quand l’art imagine l’histoire" ("
Je me souviens[motto of Quebec] . When Art Imagines History"). The picture has seen restoration. Nowadays, a great number of books related to the Patriotes, or their era in Quebec, use the painting, often cropped, to illustrate their cover page.
In a similar fashion, initial plans to erect a statue in honour of Louis-Joseph Papineau on the Quebec City Parliament Hill were aborted because of the then-controversial aspect of what was seen as a
revolutionaryfigure. A smaller statue was instead made for interior display in the Parliament and a monument such as the one originally envisioned would be inaugurated in the 2000s.
The Assembly of the Six Counties gathered
Patrioteleaders and approximately 6,000 followers in Saint-Charles, Lower Canada(present-day Quebec) on October 23and October 24, 1837. Presided by Wolfred Nelson, it is the most famous of the various popular assemblies held during that year protesting the Russell Resolutions. It was a prelude to the Lower Canada Rebellionof 1837 that sought the independence of a Lower Canada republic. Speakers were united it their protest of the British colonial government but, as one part supported economic boycotts of British products, the other appealed to an armed uprising.
* [http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fra/patrimoine/lexique/biblio1.html#asssix "Informations historiques: Le Parlement de A à Z"] at the
National Assembly of Quebecwebsite
Patriote popular assemblies
History of Quebec
Timeline of Quebec history
Quebec independence movement
* [http://www.mnba.qc.ca/Afficher.aspx?page=1702&langue=en "Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec - Salle 10"] at the
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québecwebsite
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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