François-Guillaume Lahaise (1888-1969), who wrote under the pen name Guy Delahaye, met Ozias Leduc at the age of just ten, when he visited the worksite of the church of Saint-Hilaire, where the artist was in charge of painting the murals. Leduc executed his first portrait of Delahaye in 1911, following the publication of the latter’s debut collection of poems, Les Phases. The tribute paid to the poet by the painter was the very opposite of the vehement criticism lobbed against him. An “exotist” poet, Delahaye believed in “universalism and art for art’s sake, in contrast to the regionalists’ ode to the land.” In 1912, he brought out his second collection, “Mignonne, allons voir si la rose…” est sans épines, and Leduc began this second portrait in oil. For the poet, it was an ironic response to his detractors, and for the artist, an opportunity to execute a more developed, polished depiction of the sitter. Within the monochrome background dappled with gold highlights, Leduc has inserted a female figure, scarcely visible but meaningful, given that she represents Erato, the Muse of lyric poetry.
© Estate of Ozias Leduc / SOCAN (2020)