When Fortin portrayed modern Montreal – the industrial and commercial features of its harbour area, or the industrialization and urbanization of the city’s east end – he generally adopted a viewpoint at some distance from his contemporary subject. For his views of the Hochelaga district, he would position himself beyond land that had not yet been overrun by urban development. In the foreground of this work, for example, we see plowed fields, a few old houses and some farm workers.
Although this landscape is painted over a grey ground, it fits the artist’s description of his “black manner”: “The method using a black ground is a technique that brings the values out one hundred percent. You put a dark green over it, and it becomes a bit darker. It’s more beautiful. This technique is especially good for cloudy days, better than for sunny weather. The first areas on the black, I position the large masses, the shaded parts. . . I don’t touch the sky. The sky is done at the very end.”
© Fondation Marc-Aurèle Fortin / SOCAN (2020)