LAMBERT, dit Saint-Paul, PAUL, silversmith; b. 1691, son of Paul Lambert and Thérèse Huard, of the parish of Sainte-Catherine, Arras, France; d. 25 Nov. 1749 in Quebec.
Lambert was the outstanding worker in precious metals in Quebec City during the first half of the 18th century. Though there are extensive records of his activities, they do not reveal his birthplace or where and with whom he served his apprenticeship as a silversmith. Ramsay Traquair* subscribes to the view that Lambert was born in Quebec City, but Gérard Morisset* favours France. It is significant that Lambert is not mentioned in the census of 1716 and the earliest Quebec documentary reference to him dates from 30 Aug. 1729 when, at nearly 40 years of age, he married Marie-Françoise, daughter of François Laberge, widower, of Château-Richer. Following the death of Marie-Françoise on 28 Nov. 1747, Lambert married on 19 Feb. 1748, Marguerite, the eldest daughter of Jean-Baptiste Maillou, dit Desmoulins, and Marguerite Caron. Maillou’s second son, Joseph, was apprenticed to Lambert, then living on Rue Sault-au-Matelot.
Some confusion has arisen from the fact that around 1730 Lambert adopted the name of Saint-Paul. References are made to a silversmith named “Saint-Paul” in the account books of the parish churches of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in 1732, of Les Écureuils in 1744, and of Saint-Pierre, Île d’Orléans, in 1746. An écuelle bearing the accepted punchmark of Paul Lambert – P L surmounted by a fleur-de-lis with a small decorative mark under the initials – together with a somewhat similar punch with the letters S P on the same piece, is given by Traquair as supporting evidence of an interlocking relationship between Paul Lambert and Saint-Paul, though he points out the second punch could be that of Samuel Payne*, a contemporary New France silversmith. The change in name is recorded by Tanguay, and Morisset states that it was common practice in the early part of the 18th century to “sanctify” the Christian name: Paul Lambert, dit Saint-Paul. Examination of a receipt for work done and signed by Saint-Paul, dated 20 April 1745, does not suggest any association with Paul Lambert. Morisset quotes from the church records of Notre-Dame de Québec to the effect that Paul Lambert and Saint-Paul were one and the same person. With the exception of the écuelle mentioned by Traquair, the known pieces of silver fashioned by Lambert only carry the punchmark incorporating the letters P L.
Though there were other silversmiths working in New France – Jean-Baptiste Deschevery, dit Maisonbasse, Michel Cotton, Jean-François Landron, and François Lefebvre to mention a few – the amount of Lambert’s work which has survived leads to the conclusion that he was the most important. His skill and artistry compare favourably with those of fellow craftsmen in France and the American colonies. The quality of his work set a standard that was to influence those who followed him, notably François Ranvoyzé*, Pierre Huguet*, dit Latour, Laurent Amiot*, and other Quebec silversmiths. Silver fashioned by Lambert is outstanding not only for its fine design but for the manner in which it is decorated. He favoured a combination of flat chasing in the form of an open acanthus leaf, gadrooning, the crimping of edges to give the effect of “beading,” and repoussé work. These decorative features are illustrated in an instrument de paix in the Henry G. Birks collection in Montreal. After the close of the French régime, the English type of silver, featuring line rather than decoration, set the style for silversmiths in Quebec until the commencement of the Victorian era when elaborate and over-decorated pieces of silver became the fashion.
Examples of Lambert’s work are to be seen in the Musée du Québec, the chapel of the Ursulines and Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec City, the Huron chapel at Ancienne-Lorette, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a number of private collections. There are also pieces in the parish churches of Saint-Michel de Sillery, Montmagny, Saint-Augustin-de-Québec, Saint-Charles-Borromée in Charlesbourg, Sainte-Famine, Île d’Orléans, and Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse.
AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 1748–1752, f.102v. ANQ, Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 29 août 1729; Greffe de C.-H. Du Laurent, 23, 28 nov. 1749; Greffe de J.-C. Panet, 23 nov. 1747, 13 févr. 1748, 28 nov. 1749. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Langdon, Canadian silversmiths. Gérard Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts, 95–96; Paul Lambert dit Saint-Paul (Collection Champlain, Québec, 1945). Traquair, Old silver of Quebec. Marius Barbeau, “Deux cents ans d’orfèvrerie chez-nous,” RSCT, 3rd ser., XXXIII (1939), sect.i, 183–92. E. A. Jones, “Old church silver in Canada,” RSCT, 3rd ser., XII (1918), sect.ii, 150.