The Sugar Loaf Montmorency Falls
Oil on canvas
The reverse with old gallery label from Montreal, dated 1912
48.3 cm x 75 cm (19" x 29" 1/2)
Condition : the painting has been fairly lined and cleaned
One of the oldest tourist destinations in Quebec is Montmorency Falls east of Quebec City. At 83 metres in height, the falls are 30 metres taller than Niagara Falls, although they are much narrower and therefore don’t have the same panoramic quality.
The remarkable thing about them is that they give birth every winter to an offspring natural attraction — a little mountain of snow and ice at the base of the falls known as the Pain de sucre, or Sugar Loaf, this famous ice cone is formed by the vapour of the fall freezing over the winter months.
It was a favourite weekend excursion and tobogganing spot for the officers and wives of the British garrison in the early decades of the 19th century.
Prominent painters of the 19th century paid homage to it: Joseph Légaré (ca. 1800); Cornelius Krieghoff (ca. 1853) and Alexander Henderson (ca. 1871)
Most of the artists within the anglophone community were amateurs, usually British army officers.
There were some professionals, and the most notable of these were James Pattison Cockburn (ca. 1830) and Robert Todd (ca. 1845) who painted at least 5 paintings; recent conservation has revealed that the landscape was completed first, then set aside to await a commission to fill it with figures.
Our painting belongs to the style of an amateur British army officer who would have painted it in the 1830's