Jacques Chagnon will have his portrait in oil paint at the National Assembly

Jacques Chagnon will have his portrait in oil paint at the National Assembly

Jacques Chagnon will have his portrait in oil paint at the National Assembly

Photomontage: Christian Chevalier and Jacques Denis/photomontage Le Devoir On the left, photography by François Gendron. On the right, Louise Harel's canvas. Both were presidents of the National Assembly.

Former President of the National Assembly Jacques Chagnon has chosen to reconnect with oil painting for a portrait that will immortalize him with “an original touch” in the institution's pantheon, where he will join his predecessors.< /p>

Mr. Chagnon, whose mandate ended more than four years ago, explained to Devoir that he will however have to wait until 2024 to unveil the work, at the end of what he describes as -even of “saga”.

“It's not easy to find portrait painters today”, he confided.

For this reason, his successor, François Paradis, will precede him on Wednesday, during a ceremony in the hall of the National Assembly, where he will present the portrait that a photographer has made of him.

Mr. Chagnon had however started his project shortly before leaving office in 2018. He first chose an Indigenous painter with whom the project did not succeed. A second artist then withdrew. Finally, last week, Mr. Chagnon reached an agreement with the painter Rosalie Gamache, who agreed to paint his portrait.

“It’s still quite hot,” he admitted. It will be ready in May next year, so it's a saga, it's just because it will be a little longer.

Mr. Chagnon's decision breaks with recent practice, which has led four presidents to opt for a photo of themselves rather than a painting since 2009.

“Each of them decided that was what they liked best,” he explained. I can't comment on their choice, but personally, I was looking for something a little more original. »

Mr. Chagnon, a Liberal MP from 1985 to 2018, says the painting that will represent him will respect the budget, which is limited to $15,000.

“I made the decision that it would be an oil painting. oil and not a photograph. It's a little more complicated than when you take the photographer of the National Assembly, it's another world,” he concedes.

Photos and paintings

After stepping down as president in 2008, Michel Bissonnet himself broke with the practice of previous decades by choosing to be photographed rather than painted. Photo portraits were the norm at the time of Maurice Duplessis, recalled on this occasion Le Devoir. His successors Yvon Vallières, François Gendron and Mr. Paradis then imitated him.

Although he denies wanting to offer “a virtual speculative gain” to the National Assembly, Mr. Chagnon pointed out that the portrait of his predecessor Clément Richard, produced by the famous painter Jean Paul Lemieux, was now worth more than its cost. of $15,000, which had caused a controversy, in the early 1980s.

“Everyone had rolled in the scandal, but today, it is a canvas that must be worth a million”, he estimated.

A lover of painting, Mr. Chagnon spoke with Rosalie Gamache about his artistic conceptions before deciding that she would do his portrait.

< p>“I'm sensitive to that, so I tried to find someone with a fairly matching sensibility,” he said.

I can't comment on [the choice of my predecessors], but personally, I was looking for something a little more original

— Jacques Chagnon


A few sitting sessions will be required. They should begin after a trip that Mr. Chagnon is to make in the spring to Amsterdam, where he will also go to see an important retrospective of the Dutch painter of the 17th century Johannes Vermeer.

According to Mr. Chagnon, a portrait like his would necessarily have to be figurative.

“Obviously you have to recognize the subject, that's a good idea,” he said.

However, the setting in which he will appear remains to be determined. The ex-president hinted that the flowering gardens of parliament are among the options on the table.

“I said how I found them beautiful and that I thought it was important,” he said.

Faster and less expensive

François Paradis, who succeeded Mr. Chagnon from 2018 to 2022, said he opted for the simplicity of the photographic portrait.

“We have a choice, but I thought it was pleasant, I had a good artist, and it's obviously less expensive as well,” he explained to Devoir.

According to Mr. Paradis, the cost of his photo is about half of the $15,000 maximum.

“I wanted to get it done quickly enough to make room for those who continue to do good work,” said- he added.

A spokeswoman for the institution, Béatrice Zacharie, affirmed that each president is responsible for choosing the type of work to be created, photography or painting, and for selecting the photographer or painter.

The budget of $15,000 includes the cost s production and supervision.