HUGUET, dit Latour, PIERRE, wig maker, silversmith, and merchant; b. 24 Jan. 1749 at Quebec, son of Claude Huguet, merchant, and Charlotte La Motte; d. 17 June 1817 in Montreal, Lower Canada.
Nothing is known of the early life at Quebec of Pierre Huguet, dit Latour. Nor is it known when he moved to Montreal. There on 26 Feb. 1770 he married Charlotte Desève, widow of Jean Leheup, dit Latulippe. Huguet was identified as a wig maker one month later in the inventory of property owned jointly by Desève and her first husband. Pierre and Charlotte soon had two sons, Pierre, baptized in September 1771, and Louis, baptized in May 1773; Huguet’s younger brother, Louis-Alexandre, a silversmith, was godfather to the second. Pierre was a witness at his brother’s marriage in January 1776, as was Louis-Alexandre’s friend Dominique Rousseau*, another silversmith. “Latour wig maker” and “Latour silversmith” were among those who purchased objects at a sale of the estate of François Simonnet* in December 1778. Two years later a relative, Marie-Anne Chaboillez, widow of Pierre Parent, transferred her stone house on Rue Notre-Dame to Huguet in return for board, lodging, and a lifetime annuity. He lived and had his shop and store on these premises until a few months before his death.
In 1781 Huguet entered the silver trade; on 17 September, still describing himself as a wig maker, he signed a one-year contract with Simon Beaugrand, a 21-year-old silversmith, who was to make as many ear-rings as possible for Huguet. Huguet agreed to supply the silver, and Beaugrand was to pay 600 livres per annum for his board and lodging. For each 100 pairs of ear-rings, Beaugrand was to be paid “four piastres worth five shillings each.” Two days earlier another contract had been prepared for the master silversmith François Larsonneur, but it was not signed until October; Larsonneur had learned his craft between 1775 and 1780 at Quebec with Joseph Lucas, himself a former apprentice, like Louis-Alexandre Huguet, of Joseph Schindler*. Larsonneur agreed to make 800 pairs of ear-rings per month for one year; he was to be paid £48, “of which he will receive two Portuguese [gold coins]” at the end of each month. Huguet was to supply board, lodging, and the silver.
On 21 Aug. 1785 Huguet, now described as a silversmith, engaged as an apprentice for four years Michel Létourneau, who promised to learn the craft from Huguet “or his deputies”; henceforth Huguet would always be identified as a silversmith. After the death of his first wife in June 1787, he married Josette Valois on 16 Nov. 1788. The inventory of his workshop, compiled in January 1788 by the silversmiths Narsise Roy and Pierre Foureur, dit Champagne, included tools valued at 918 livres; domestic silver, such as bowls, jugs, goblets, sugar-tongs, various spoons, forks, and ladles, valued at 422 livres; trade silver, mainly ear ornaments, pins, bracelets, crosses, and brooches, valued at 857 livres; Indian silverware estimated at 448 livres; and bulk silver to a value of 113 livres. The inventory also included elaborate personal belongings, indicative of a sophisticated style of life. It is likely, judging from Huguet’s will of 1812, that in 1788 his son Pierre at the age of 17 began to work as a silversmith in the shop. Huguet was also busy with other matters at around this time; in December 1786 he had bought land in the faubourg Saint-Antoine, and in 1790–91 he was occupied with an inheritance from Josette’s mother and with a bequest left to his step-daughter, Marguerite Leheup, dit Latulippe.
On 10 Oct. 1791 Huguet engaged Augustin Lagrave as apprentice for seven years, and in March 1795 he hired Faustin Gigon for a similar term. The first records of repairs by Huguet to religious silver of the church of Notre-Dame date from this period. In 1795 he was involved in having a second storey added to his house on Rue Notre-Dame. Not pleased by the progress of the work, he protested against his contractors, stating that his family and business would suffer from the delays; moreover, taking care of the shop behind his house had become difficult because he had had to rent lodgings at a distance.
As well as repairing silver, Huguet had been making trinkets for the fur trade. Between 1797 and 1801 the North West Company spent £4,184 3s. 5d. on silver ornaments, and of this amount £3,068 8s. 9d. was paid to Huguet. The McGill brothers, James and Andrew, were also among his clients. In March 1797 Huguet cancelled the apprenticeship of Augustin Lagrave, and replaced him in September with François Blache, about 16 years old, whom he engaged to age 21. Huguet also engaged Salomon Marion* as apprentice in July 1798 for a term of five years. On 6 June 1799 Huguet was among several silversmiths, including Charles Duval*, John Oakes*, Jean-Henry Lerche, and Christian Grothé, at the sale of the estate of the silversmith Louis-Alexandre Picard*, held at the home of another silversmith, Michel Roy; Huguet bought several tools for £68 8s. The following year he sold Indian silver to his neighbour, the merchant Joseph Borrel, for 1,219 livres. In April 1802 he engaged 18-year-old Paul Morand* as apprentice until he reached age 21. The previous year Huguet had been a witness to the marriage of his niece, Magdeleine Huguet, to the silversmith Jean-Baptiste Dupéré.
That Huguet’s business was increasing is confirmed by an inventory, made in 1802 after the death of his second wife, of the property that they owned jointly. Total assets were valued at 56,674 livres, including 30,525 livres in cash. Tools, valued by the silversmiths Narsise Roy and Nathan Starns, were now worth 2,272 livres. Huguet’s shop included linens appraised at 862 livres, domestic silver worth 738 livres, and trade silver valued at 1,284 livres. Three surviving children from this marriage were placed under Huguet’s care: Louis-Maximilien-Théodore, 12, Agathe-Henriette, 6, and Scholastique, 5. In the same year, Huguet’s son Louis, who had renounced his plans to become a priest to go into business, married Claire Trudeau, one of whose friends was the silversmith Joseph Normandeau.
In 1803 Huguet decided to move his store into a new building to be constructed behind his house. Of stone, two storeys high, and equipped with a forge, it was to cost 3,180 livres. That Huguet began at this time to make, rather than repair, religious silver is confirmed by payments received from various churches; they date from 1803 and continue until his death.
From this period on, Huguet also bought, rented, and sold several properties, administered estates, and made loans. He was identified as a “bourgeois” for the first time in 1805. On 24 Oct. 1809 he married Marie-Louise Dalciat, widow of Claude-Joseph Petit-Claire, a watchmaker. This third marriage provided for the separation of property, a rare arrangement in Canadian society at that time. Most of Huguet’s business contracts were handled by his son Louis, commissioned notary in 1804, and by Huguet’s friend the notary Jean-Baptiste Desève.
In 1810 Huguet took his last known apprentice, Alexander Fraser, aged 15 years; his term was to last until he reached 21. In the same year a much more important contract was settled with Salomon Marion, whose apprenticeship ended in 1803 and who now had his own shop. Marion agreed to work one year “exclusively” for Huguet, making several religious items. Huguet controlled the market in Montreal; as a matter of fact, neither Marion nor Morand, another ex-apprentice, was able to develop a clientele until after Huguet’s death. The contract with Marion shows that the identification PH was less the mark of a craftsman than a commercial label put on objects sold by Huguet but manufactured by apprentices or contract workers. This fact is important to remember in any study of Huguet’s styles, especially of religious silver, in which Marion and Morand specialized.
In his will, Huguet bequeathed to his son Pierre all the tools and movables in his store as well as the use of the house and property on Rue Notre-Dame, “wanting to repay and recognize the good services rendered to him by his son for 24 years.” In 1813 Huguet named Pierre his executor in place of the painter Louis Dulongpré*. Huguet was also generous to his daughter Agathe-Henriette when in 1816 she married Duncan Cameron McDonell. By this date the silversmith seems to have retired; he was then living in the faubourg Saint-Antoine. At his death in 1817 Huguet’s affairs were in order and his bequests clear. He had always been a keen businessman and a good judge of people, qualities that made him one of the leading silversmiths at the turn of the century. The younger Pierre, identified in contracts as “bourgeois,” managed his father’s properties until his own death on 11 Sept. 1828.
Huguet’s career as a silversmith is fascinating in many respects. It followed a simple but logical development, reflecting the evolution of the market. His production was originally oriented exclusively towards trade silver, but by 1788 he was also producing domestic silver. He entered the religious silver market by repairing religious vessels as early as 1794, and it was only in 1803 that he produced silver articles for the church. That he attained a certain predominance in his field is indicated by the agreement of 1810 with Marion and confirmed by his acquaintance with almost every silversmith in Montreal, as well as by the inability of his apprentices Marion and Morand to enter the market until after his death. He certainly was among the richest in his craft, but it is difficult to consider him as a craftsman; his activity was more that of a bourgeois, who hired apprentices and masters to work for him while he looked after marketing and administration. His closest competitor in the city, Robert Cruickshank, employed fewer silversmiths. Thus, one should not be surprised that objects bearing Huguet’s mark have less aesthetic unity than those of François Ranvoyzé, Laurent Amiot*, Cruickshank, or Marion; Huguet’s aim for his work was not that it be decorative but rather lucrative.
[It would be interesting to study the division of work in Huguet’s shop in terms of the social classes to which silversmiths belonged and to determine Huguet’s own position in the Montreal market. Further research might also reveal the specific roles played by his brother Louis-Alexandre and his son Pierre. We disagree, however, with Ross Fox that Louis-Alexandra “directed Pierre’s workshop until his dismissal sometime before 1792”; no document supports such a hypothesis and all the information on relationships which has been located in original sources has been given in this article. r.d. and n.m.]
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 26 févr. 1770; 1er sept. 1771; 26 mai 1773; 22, 30 janv. 1776; 30 juin 1783; 7 janv. 1784; 5 juin 1787; 6 sept. 1795; 12 oct. 1801; 5 nov. 1804; 24 oct. 1809; 19 juin, 20 oct. 1817; CN1-16, 4 juill. 1802, 11 oct. 1809, 20 mars 1810, 2 mars 1813; CN1-74, 16 janv. 1788; 24 juill. 1792; 27, 28 sept. 1802; 14 juill. 1812; CN1-121, 21 janv. 1776; 16 déc. 1778; 2 nov. 1796; 12 déc. 1816; 15 mars, 21 mai, 17 juin, 5, 15 juill. 1817; CN1-126, 21 avril 1813; CN1-128, 21 août 1785; 11 déc. 1786; 30 août, 7 sept., 13 nov. 1790; 1er avril 1791; 21 janv., 30 mars, 23, 24 sept. 1795; 23 mars 1796; 6 mars, 1er mai, 25 sept. 1797; 23 juill. 1798; 20 sept. 1800; 28 avril 1802; 20 déc. 1803; 20 nov. 1804; CN1-158, 15 sept. 1780; 15, 17 sept. 1781; CN1-185, 3 Feb., 23 March 1808; 10 July 1811; CN1-194, 16 févr. 1805; CN1-243, 13 oct. 1804; 4, 6 avril 1807; 31 janv., 26 déc. 1809; 13 févr., 14 juin 1810; 13 avril 1811; 29 janv. 1812; 7 juill. 1813; 8, 26 janv., 19 juill., 17 oct., 29 nov., 20 déc. 1814; 3 oct. 1815; 20 févr. 1816; 7 févr. 1817; 7 juin 1819; 4, 8 févr. 1820; 15 févr. 1821; 18 mars, 10 avril 1822; 8 févr., 12 mars 1823; 8 févr. 1825; 4 mars 1826; CN1-269, 6 juin 1799; CN1-372, 27 mars 1770; CN1-375, 16 nov. 1788. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 24 janv. 1749, 10 août 1754; CN1-25, 20 avril 1775; CN1-189, 20, 22 déc. 1766. MAC-CD, Fonds Morisset, 2, H894.5/L888.9; H294.5/P622/1.
Quebec almanac, 1806: 53. Robert Derome, “Delezenne, les orfèvres, l’orfèvrerie, 1740–1790” (thèse de ma, univ. de Montréal, 1974). Langdon, Canadian silversmiths, 19. Gérard Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts; Évolution d’une pièce d’argenterie (Québec, 1943), 20–21. R.A.C. Fox, Quebec and related silver at the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, 1978), 82–83. Traquair, Old silver of Quebec. É.-Z. Massicotte, “L’argentier Huguet-Latour,” BRH, 46 (1940): 287. Gérard Morisset, “Un perruquier-orfèvre,” La Patrie, 2 juill. 1950: 28–29, 31.