MARC-AURÈLE DE FOY SUZOR-COTÉ, R.C.A.
FEMMES DE CAUGHNAWAGA
signed, titled and inscribed “Roman Bronze Works, Inc.”
16.5 ins x 22 ins x 12 ins; 41.9 cms x 55.9 cms x 30.5 cms
This exceptional bronze was produced during one of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté’s (1869-1937) most fecund periods of creativity. It depicts three women at Caughnawaga (now Khanawake), a village on the south shore of Lac Saint Louis, approximately ten minutes drive outside of Montreal. Other castings or versions of this subject may be found in prominent private and public collections including that of the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée du Québec, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Laurier Lacroix writes that the artist regarded this sculpture as “one of his greatest successes” and quotes Pierre L’Allier’s view: “Even if Suzor-Coté had only created this one work, his name would deserve to be featured in any history of Canadian sculpture.” De Jouvancourt concurs, describing this work as “une de ses pièces maitresses”.
Suzor-Coté is associated with the Canadian Impressionist school and here effectively creates an Impressionist sculpture. The three female figures move determinedly forward against the suggestion of inclement weather as they make their way perhaps to or from a market. Their baskets and cloth sacks are filled with goods to sell or recently purchased. So suggestively evocative of atmosphere is this work, that one art historian described Femmes as appearing as though it “had been sculpted by the wind”.
Because Suzor-Coté worked in bronze to produce some of his most famous genre sculptures, he was able to introduce a kind of vitality and individuality of type that an additive art making process like this allows. Conceived using plastic materials (for example clay) there can be greater opportunity for a level of detail or subtlety that is more difficult when other (reductive) methods and materials are used.
Hugues de Jouvancourt, Suzor-Coté, Éditions Le Frégate, Montreal, 1967, page 133, and pages 46 and 47 for the charcoal sketch to Femmes de Caughnawaga and the bronze (collection Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), reproduced.
Pierre L’Allier, Suzor-Coté l’Oeuvre Sculpte, Musée du Québec, Quebec, 1991, cover illustration, for Femmes de Caughnawaga, reproduced in colour, page 23 for the tinted plaster of Femmes de Caughnawaga (cat.23) reproduced in colour, and pages 80-81 for plaster model, and charcoal sketch reproduced, respectively.
Laurier Lacroix, Suzor-Coté, Light and Matter, Musée du Québec, Quebec, 2002, pages 250 and 253, page 252 for the charcoal sketch of this subject, reproduced and cat.no.120, for Femmes de Caughnawaga, reproduced.
Private Collection, Montreal (acquired approximately forty years ago)