François Malepart de Beaucourt
La Prairie, Quebec, 1740 – Montreal 1794
Portrait of an Architect, Master of a Masonic Lodge in Cap-François, Saint-Domingue (Now Haiti)
Oil on canvas
70.2 x 57.2 cm
Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2006.114
Quebec and Canadian Art
Before the recent discovery of this portrait of an architect dated 1787, only the Portrait of a Haitian Woman (McCord Museum, Montreal) dating from 1786 suggested that Beaucourt had spent any time in the West Indies. The 1787 painting made it possible to confirm both this and the fact that in 1788 the painter belonged to the Masonic lodge of La Vérité. In the summer of 1791, the slave revolt pillaged and burned the town of Cap-François, where the portrait of the architect was painted. Beaucourt fled to Philadelphia, where the majority of the island’s emigrés were concentrated. He was back in Montreal in 1792. Based on the paintings executed up to the time of the artist’s death in 1793, art historian Gérard Morisset recognized his connection with the Freemasons, confirmed by the symbolic presence of three dots forming a triangle beside the artist’s signature in several instances. In the Museum’s portrait, the three dots are aligned, and the signature of the artist appears in the triangular turned up corner of the blueprint, apparently pointing deferentially toward the sitter.