The LION & the CARDINAL by DANIEL MITSUI


The LION & the CARDINAL
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17 January 2012


OZIAS LEDUC ~ MURAL CARTOONS for the EPISCOPAL PALACE of SHERBROOKE









Laurier Lacroix:
Ozias Leduc (1864-1955) decorated the chapel of the bishop's palace in Sherbrooke between 1921 and 1932. He obtained the commission through the architect Louis N. Audet (1880-1971) from Sherbrooke, Quebec, whom Leduc had first met in 1911.

While he was applying the motifs that made up the decorative bands on the vaults and walls of the chapel, Leduc worked out the subjects of the four main paintings. Several preparatory sketches reveal his thorough study of forms, iconography, and symbolism. The iconographic theme is composed of four scenes linking Mary with the redemption of humanity: Mary Hailed as Co-Redeemer, The Annunciation, Christ Discovered among the Doctors, and The Crucifixion. Leduc also did much research on the spatial organization of the shape of the surfaces to be decorated (a rectangle crowned by a pointed arch) so that each scene would be easily visible in the narrow chapel.

The composition of the sketches is based on the interpenetration of triangles and an ellipse on a central axis which unifies the images. Each sketch is divided into three tiers which convey the meaning and symbolism of the theme. The colours used in the sketches and ultimately, with some variation, in the finished paintings and decorative bands were inspired by the tonalities of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and greatly enhance the total visual impact.

In this treatment of the subjects, Leduc combined the Christian message (the significance of Christ's sacrifice) with suggestions of his own cultural and intellectual milieu - the permanence of evil in creation, the determining role of the ideal woman in the salvation of humanity, and man's desire to rise above creation and to reach God through a knowledge of nature.

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