Founded in 1874, the Club Saint-Denis, a historic private bastion of the French Canadian bourgeoisie then the Francophone business elite, decided to close in 2009. Its remarkable yet little-known art collection was generously offered to us through the good offices of the late Bernard Lamarre, who worked on this negotiation since 2009. We are deeply grateful to the members of the Club Saint-Denis who accepted to make this gift.
Joseph-Charles Franchère’s Lilacs was shown in 1911, but would only be offered to the Club by its members later on. Few of the artist’s still lifes have been found. His oeuvre consisted primarily of landscapes, genre scenes and portraits. They were nevertheless exhibited in Montreal salons from the beginning of the 1890s. A painting of the same title was shown elsewhere, in 1912, in his solo exhibition of a hundred works at the Montreal gallery of Johnson & Copping.(1) This bouquet of typical Quebec flowers invades almost the entire surface of the painting and it is this exuberance that captures the viewer’s attention. The 1911 exhibition was not repeated, and later acquisitions would come from donations by Club members.
JACQUES DES ROCHERS
1. Exhibition of oil and watercolour paintings by J. C. Franchère, A.R.C.A. former student of Gérôme at the École nationale des beaux-arts de Paris at Johnson & Copping, 634 Sainte Catherine St. West, November 16-30, 1912.
Joseph-Charles Franchère (1866-1921), Lilacs, about 1911, oil on canvas board, 64.4 x 54.8 cm. MMFA, gift of the Club Saint-Denis of Montreal (gift of Robert Y. Paré, Gilles Lapierre and Claude Payette)