McCord-Museum

"Now known as Portrait of a Haitian Woman (1786) and painted by the French Canadian artist François Malépart de Beaucourt, this work is the most thorough and professionally rendered representation of a Black slave in the context of Québec and Canada at this historical juncture. It offers unparalleled opportunity to explore the specific colonial context of enslavement in 18th-century Montréal and Québec.”

"The sexually charged nature [emphasis added] of Portrait of a Haitian Woman— the deliberate juxtaposition of the breast with the tropical fruit — is indicative of the precarious status of Black female slaves and their vulnerability to sexual exploitation. Upper class, white female sitters simply would not have been represented in this fashion. Due to the practice of “breeding,”all aspects of female slave life came under invasive scrutiny from slave owners, including their sexuality, marital status, workload and diet. Therefore, the exposed breast of the enslaved Black female in Portrait of a Haitian Woman indicates her sexuality and “breeding” potential as active considerations in her economic value. Beaucourt’s portrait participated in the creation of sexual stereotypes through which Black women were viewed as sexually lascivious and deviant, which served to justify their sexual exploitation within the Atlantic Slave Trade.”

Read Full article by McGill University Professor, Charmaine A. Nelson.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This story ran last weekend in The Gazette, but only checking it out now. Already feel great about it. You know, ‘two camps,’ just getting equal air time, having a friendly debate.

For comedian King, the widespread resistance to questioning blackface in Quebec is a reminder of the extent of the racial divide.“I see the level of how much (white Quebecers) don’t know us and aren’t sensitive to us,” he said. “It’s really sad. Nobody called anybody racist in the first place. We said, ‘What you do is associated with racism.’

“If you do something that makes you look racist, and I tell you, ‘Don’t do it.’ And you say, ‘No, it’s not racist.’ And I say, ‘(Just) don’t do it.’ And you say, ‘No, freedom of speech.’ And I say, ‘I’m trying to make you not look racist …” 

(Thanks for the submission, Scott! )

Wedding Dress, 1878, Canadian
McCord Museum

The line of the dress has now become more vertical. The one-piece princess-line gown in silk taffeta has a fitted bodice and front closure with velvet-covered buttons. There is a standing collar and long sleeves in velvet. The later are trimmed with a cuff of knife-pleating surmounted by a flat pleated band in taffeta. Two appliquéd velvet panels, on either side of the front closure are terminated in chenille and silk fringe. There is a small watch pocket on the left side. A horizontally flat-pleated section below the waist creates an overskirt effect, but does not continue through to the centre back. It is trimmed near its hemline with silk and chenille fringe. Near the hemline of the taffeta underskirt there are box pleats, and short velvet tabs terminating in taffeta knife-pleating. The upper centre back features an appliquéd velvet panel in the shape of a violon body, which continues below the waist. The flat-pleated taffeta section from the front terminates in the back with bows on one side and an appliquéd vertical velvet panel on the other side, creating an asymmetrical effect. On the right side in the back, a deep bag pocket is inserted into the horizontal flat pleating. Lower back fullness is created by a box pleat with an inverted pleat in its centre, this forming a train embellished with a large bow near the hemline. Three sets of tie tapes are inserted into the inner seams of the back of the skirt in order that may be adjusted to fit tightly to the body. The year assigned to the garment is substantiated through donor information regarding the wedding date. In addition, a pocket placed in the back, such as is inserted in this gown, was popular from about 1876 to 1878; this serves to confirm the above information. Attire in the Notman Photographic Archives also reveals the trend towards a new vertical line. During the 1870s and 1880s wedding dresses were frequently not white. At around the time the Brennan wedding dress was ordered, plum colours were the height of fashion. In the January 30, 1877 issue of the Montreal newspaper The Evening Star, J. Carroll and Co. advertised, under the caption “New Dress Goods” ten types of fabric : all were available in “Plum Colors”. And in the August 31, 1878 issue of The Montreal Daily Witness, S. Carsley, which was located at 393 and 395 Notre Dame St., advertised a “New lot of all shades Plum, the best value that we have.”