215 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 2-89192-126-7
DDC 730'.92




Reviewed by Terrence Paris

Terrence Paris is Public Services Librarian at Mount St. Vincent
University in Halifax.


The contribution of writers to the definition of Quebec nationalism has
long been recognized; the ideological content of the work of visual
artists has been less extensively analyzed. Albert Laliberté
(1878–1953) was inspired by the labors and exploits of the pioneers
and public figures who helped create a unique society on the North
American continent. He expressed his pride and nostalgia in his vast
output of more than 700 sculptures, ranging from clay maquettes to a few
bronze monuments—such as his most famous commission depicting Dollard
Des Ormeaux, the hero of Long-Sault, flanked by a female figure
symbolizing Victory and France.

Laliberté appears alienated from the mainstream of twentieth-century
art, and, indeed from the whole of modern industrial civilization. The
titles of his symbolic figures suggest pessimism and anxiety—Le
Désespoir, L’Angoisse, Les Déchus—while his evocation of the hard,
simple lives of the farmer and the craftsman in his series of figurines
“Légendes, métiers et coutumes disparus du Canada” expresses a
yearning for past values and social mores. In 1935, Annette Doré
commented, “all his compositions bear the stamp of 1900: a taste for
circumlocution, symbols, something of the romantic.”

The reproductions that make up the bulk of the catalogue compiled for
the 1990 retrospective at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts indicate that
Laliberté felt no need to evolve a style beyond the one he learned
while a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The photographs of
terracotta, plaster, bronze, and marble sculptures are arranged
chronologically, and are accompanied by extensive commentaries,
exhibition histories, and bibliographic notes. Cloutier does not try to
promote Laliberté as an important artist, but she does offer a context
in which his work can be appreciated as a noteworthy contribution to
Quebec’s cultural and ideological heritage.


Cloutier, Nicole., “Laliberté,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,