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Lemieux, Jean Paul
Portrait of Governor General Roland Michener Portrait of Governor General Roland Michener
1970 1970

Governor General Roland Michener and Norah Willis Michener pose in perfect profile. Jean Paul Lemieux painted the companion portraits as deliberate allusions to the Portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca. Claiming that no artist “remains untouched by the great works of the past,” Lemieux felt his own style “had been softened by the Italian painters,” like della Francesca, whom he admired.

Serenely smiling, the Micheners share a similar composure with other, usually anonymous, Lemieux portraits. Here the artist’s characteristically spare landscape is readable. In lieu of della Francesca’s city of Urbino, but with similar hilly surroundings, the Governor General’s two official residences serve as background. Behind Michener is the Citadelle and St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, with a view of the Hôtel du Parlement; behind his wife is Government House (Rideau Hall) and the Ottawa River. The civil uniform of the Governor General, which Michener wore with pride in official photographs, is here pared of accoutrements save the elaborately trimmed collar;its vibrant red echoed in the nearby Canadian flag. After Michener’s term as Governor General ended, he served as Chancellor of Queen’s University.

By the time Lemieux painted these portraits, he had retired from the École des beaux-arts de Québec (1937-1965) and was already recognized as a major Canadian artist, with numerous solo and group exhibitions, at home and abroad. While his painting became increasingly dark in the 1970s, he also undertook, in a lighter vein, several portraits of public figures.

 
Lemieux, Jean Paul
born Quebec City, Quebec 1904; died Quebec City, Quebec 1990 born Quebec City, Quebec 1904; died Quebec City, Quebec 1990
Portrait of Governor General Roland Michener Portrait of Governor General Roland Michener
1970 1970
Oil on canvas Oil on canvas
40.6 x 31.8 cm
Gift of Karen M.R. Blaker, 2015 Gift of Karen M.R. Blaker, 2015
58-013.01

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