Louis Jobin - Louis Jobin was one of the leading wood carvers in Quebec in Victorian and Edwardian Canada, crafting hundreds of statues, busts, and various groups for churches and historic pageants.
His Madonna sits high atop the Église-Notre-Dame-de- l'Annonciation, in L'Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec.
Inside the church is a rare Crucifixion group by the master carver. To properly carve the body detail and proportions on Jesus, Louis often used nude models, especially in his early years.
Louis had started carving bowsprit statues for ships in Montreal in the days of wooden sailing ships. But with the coming of steam, and metal vessels, his clientele disappeared. So he moved to Quebec and turned his talents to religious carvings.
Louis executed many Calvaries - groups including Jesus on the Cross surrounded by Mary and Joseph - in his life . The one featured here stands in a special alcove of the church. It was carved in wood and covered in gilt. Some of his statues were left in bare wood. Others were finished as polychromed wood - wood painted over with many colours. Most of his large statues, destined for outdoor use on churches, were covered with copper, lead, or metal sheathing, and then painted - like the Madonna on the roof.
|Great Canadian Artist
Great Canadian Loss!
Sadly, most of Louis Jobin's work has disappeared.
Canada's severe weather ruined many statues; vandals destroyed others. Many more were burned in fires that ravaged Catholic churches, which rely so much on candles, especially at Christmas time.
Also, Louis Jobin believed that sheathing the wooden statues in metal would protect them from the elements and make them weather proof. In fact the opposite was the case; water and moisture seeped inside through cracks, pooled, and soaked the wood, failed to dry out, and rotted the work. Metal covered figures decayed faster than the wooden ones that were completely exposed to the elements.
Thieves have made off with others. In the 1950s one of Louis' greatest carving triumphs - the trumpeting angel in the Plessisville Church - disappeared when the building was being renovated. Luckily its mate survives, atop the organ chest. It is one of the finest statues ever carved in Canada.
Sadly, some of Louis' major works are deteriorating rapidly because, as often happens, Canadian heritage funds are spent elsewhere - often overseas on foreign works - instead of preserving the artistic treasures of Canada's own oeuvres like those of master sculptor, Louis Jobin.
Louis Jobin also carved in ice. During the Winter Carnival of 1894 - considered perhaps the finest one ever held - Louis carved three huge statues - of Samuel de Champlain, Bishop Laval, and Priest Jean de Brébeuf - which many called the highlight of the carnival. People marvelled as to how they looked as if they were cut from clear glass. To do so Louis had to design special tools because conventional tools kept breaking the ice in unwanted directions. All his carving had to be done outdoors with bare hands in sub-zero temperatures.
Sadly these masterpieces melted away and we only have poor photographs to show what they looked like.
Unhappily, with the rising interest in antiques, theft of Quebec's religious heritage is a growing problem, as "from Quebec" is appended to more and more religious and secular antiques to fetch higher prices from Ontario's wealthy collectors.
| Pass it on...
Go Tell the National Gallery of Canada
To Sell the "Voice of An American," left and use the millions it paid to get it,
to Buy, and Preserve, instead
Great Canadian Art by
Great Canadian Artists.
When the trade in antiques is so lucrative, are Quebec's silver, statues, and busts, safe anywhere, from ruthless antique rustlers, except under the watchful eye of a guard, or video, or set on the highest peak of a church? Many of Philippe Hébert's statues that were commissioned to adorn tombs of the wealthy have been stolen from graves in Montreal.
Louis spent his whole life carving but he died a poor man in spite of hard work and conscientious application to glorifying God and Mankind with the talents he was born with, and worked hard to develop all his life.
Hopefully God rewarded him better than Mankind did in his time on earth...
Louis Jobin carved secular items as well including a number of cigar store Indians which were used to attract interest on sidewalks to tobacco stores.
These were invariably posed as solemn, in regal dress, and of noble demeanour, in fact, exactly dead opposite to the demeanour of a smoker hacking out his guts after a few decades of self-abuse...
Louis also produced statues of Quebec's historical figures like General Wolfe, for pageants, etc.
This statue was destined for an external alcove in a building, until a threat to firebomb the place called for a change in plans.
It is now in a Regimental Museum.
It is rare that items by Louis Jobin come up for auction; his signed pieces are impossible to find.
Left is a horse in wood and copper that is attributed to him.
It could be. Sculptors liked to take a day off work too... Forget the serious Jesus and Mary stuff, or those hot political items that might get your house blown up...
How about something for the kids?
It just might be that Louis' loving fingers turned the horse over in his hands, as he carved away, probably softly humming a tune, at his studio at Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré, and stopping, from time to time, to look out over the St. Lawrence River below...
Louis Jobin... A great Canadian artist...
Mario Béland wrote the definitive work on Louis Jobin, a clearly heartfelt tribute to a previously unsung Canadian artist of the first order. He was as proud of Louis' work, as of his own, which displays a massive amount of research he uncovered and documented in his book.
To communicate his excitement, at what he found, he autographed copies and sent them to notable people who shared his enthusiasm in preserving Canadian heritage: Mary Allodi, Curator Emeritus of the Royal Ontario Museum, and John Laurel Russell CM, below.
John was intimately familiar with all the leading artists of the early 20th century, and bacame probably Canada's most esteemed dealer in Canadian antiques in the last half of the century. His estate sale included an enormous number of valued Canadian memorabilia items in furniture, original art, and ceramics.
On the cover Mario features probably Louis' most stunning work, the equestrian figure of St. George Slaying the Dragon. It can be found today in St. Georges-Ouest, in the Beauce region of Quebec, in front of the church. It is wood sheathed in gilt copper.
Next time you're in Quebec, stop by the local church, and look up at the figures in the facade. They might very well be by Louis Jobin...
We did, exactly that, and found four of Louis' Great Canadian Treasures - the very first time out... at L'Ancienne-Lorette, in the north western suburbs of Quebec.