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Yves Lacasse

(b Quebec City, March 10, 1795; d Quebec City, June 21, 1855).

Canadian painter, collector and politician. After studying briefly at the Quebec Seminary, in 1812 he was apprenticed to the painter and glassmaker Moses Perce (fl 1806–48). The sale in Quebec City in 1817 of part of the collection of Louis-Joseph Desjardins (1766–1848), which comprised altogether about 200 European Old Master paintings, had a decisive effect on Légaré’s career. He bought a number, which he cleaned and restored himself, and, as an almost entirely self-taught artist, found them a valuable source of inspiration, technical example and income: many of his early commissions were for large copies of religious pictures from the collection. He painted about 100 religious works but in 1828 won an honorary medal for an original secular composition, the Massacre of the Hurons by the Iroquois (Quebec, Mus. Qué.)

Légaré’s oeuvre (over 250 oils on canvas and on paper) was considerably more diverse and ambitious in subject-matter than that of such contemporaries as Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy, Antoine Plamondon and Théophile Hamel, who favoured portraiture and religious painting. He was the first Canadian-born painter to specialize in landscapes, for example ...