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James Bowman

Mrs. Colin Robertson, née Theresa Chalifoux


James Bowman
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1793 – Rochester, New York, 1842


Mrs. Colin Robertson, née Theresa Chalifoux




Oil on canvas


76.2 x 63.5 cm


Gift of Keith Alison Handyside, inv. 1944.1255


Quebec and Canadian Art

Colin Robertson was an influential figure in the fur trade and became a chief factor for the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1833, when he tried to introduce his Metis wife, Theresa Chalifoux, into the rudimentary society of the Red River Colony in Manitoba, the company’s bigoted governor, George Simpson, entered the following note in his famous Character Book: “Robertson brought his bit of Brown wt. Him to the Settlement this Spring in hopes that She would pick up a few English manners before visiting the civilized World. . . I told him distinctly that the thing was impossible which mortified him exceedingly.” Back in Montreal, Robertson had James Bowman paint both his and his wife’s portrait in 1833. Mrs. Robertson is represented according to the precepts of White “polite society,” with all trace of her origin expunged.

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