DUVAL, CHARLES (baptized Jean, until 1795 at the latest he signed Charle), silversmith; b. 4 April 1758 at Quebec, son of Pierre Duval and Élisabeth Panneton; d. 6 Feb. 1845 in the parish of Purification-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie at Repentigny, Lower Canada.
In the autumn of 1775, when a census was taken of the English-speaking residents in the town of Quebec, Charles Duval was a 17-year-old apprentice living with George McClure (Maclure), his brother-in-law. It was likely in Quebec that he apprenticed as a silversmith, perhaps with Joseph Schindler* or Jean-Nicolas Amiot (who were witnesses at the marriage of his cousin Jacques Duval in 1769), but possibly with Joseph Lucas or Louis Huguet, dit Latour.
Duval was evidently well established as a silversmith in Montreal by 1783, since in that year he rented a stone house on Rue Saint-Jacques from silversmith Dominique Rousseau*, the payments to be made in “silver articles,” such as “pins, large and small bracelets, crosses,” at the rate of 700 “francs” for the rent, 480 “piastres worth 6 francs each” for wood, and 1,100 “livres” for “rolls for drawing silver” (an impressive tool employed in making such things as wire, mouldings, and tubes). Duval associated with silversmiths François Larsonneur, Pierre Foureur, dit Champagne, Louis and Pierre* Huguet, dit Latour; like Rousseau, all of them were interested in the lucrative market in trade silver, which was being produced in quantity in Montreal to barter for furs with Indigenous people. On 6 Sept. 1795 Duval wed Magdelaine You, aged 37, the widow of Louis Huguet, dit Latour, with whom he had had a son six months earlier; the child died two weeks after being legitimized by their marriage. Duval was then 37, not 28 as stated in his marriage certificate. Through this union Duval became stepfather to Magdeleine Huguet, who married silversmith Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Dupéré, dit Champlain, in 1801.
Duval received his first orders for church silver the year he was married. He worked in turn for the fabriques of the parishes of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines (1795) and Lachenaie (1798), making altar cruets; Notre-Dame in Montreal, doing various repairs (1800); and Vaudreuil, for which he crafted a chalice and a ciborium (1801). In 1798 he took Joseph Charbonneaux on as an apprentice for a period of ten and a half years. From 1801 to 1803 he lived on Rue Notre-Dame near Rousseau. In 1802 he took on a second apprentice, Charlemagne La Mothe, aged 6, who was to stay until he reached the age of 21. His business seems, therefore, to have been prosperous at that time.
In 1808 and 1810 Duval was living with his family at Saint-François-du-Lac, which was close to a trading factory. In 1818 he was at Trois-Rivières, where he contracted to make for Jean Lemaître Lottinville “twelve silver soup-spoons, each weighing twelve and a half shillings in the currency of the province,” for a total amount of £10 10s. He apparently was still at Trois-Rivières in 1820, when he contracted to purchase a clock from Sophie Lemaître Lottinville, a woman who could transact business in her own right. Between 1817 and 1828 he executed various pieces for the fabriques of the surrounding parishes of Verchères, Bécancour, and Yamachiche. He was also present at the marriages of some friends and relatives at Saint-François-du-Lac, where his brother-in-law McClure had set up as a merchant. It may have been the same “Maclure” who in 1787 had received 66 livres 15 sous from the fabrique of Baie-du-Febvre “for a small silver ciborium.” If so, the article, as yet not found, might have been made by Duval.
Only a small number of objects bearing Duval’s mark are known. Nevertheless, almost all the church silver is of interest. In the chalice done for Verchères and the holy-water basin for Saint-François-du-Lac (both now in the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec), for example, he gave evidence of creativity, an innate aesthetic sense, and even virtuosity, although his technique was somewhat naïve. He drew inspiration from the style of Ignace-François Delezenne*, who lived near Saint-François-du-Lac towards the end of his life. This influence may have been passed on to him by John Oakes, as well as through imitation. Few pieces of Duval’s flatware and trade jewellery have been preserved, even though they must have been his main source of income. The diversity of his work well reflects the varied interests of society at that period.
[Works by Charles Duval have been located at Bécancour, Lachenaie, Montreal (in the École du Meuble), Quebec (at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec), Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Saint-François-du-Lac, Saint-Hubert, Vaudreuil, Verchères, and Yamachiche, as well as at the New Brunswick Museum. Others are held in the Henry Birks Collection of Silver at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and in the Louis Carrier and Gérard Morisset collections. r.d.]
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 7 janv. 1784; 12 déc. 1788; 21 mars, 6, 23 sept. 1795; 12 oct. 1801; CE3-8, 5 juill. 1808, 11 déc. 1810, 2 févr. 1818, 1819: f.19; CN1-74, 23–24 janv. 1788, 12 juin 1810;CN1-121, 19 déc. 1798, 12 mars 1801, 30 mars 1802; CN1-158, 11 août 1783, 24 oct. 1788; CN1-255, 13 mai 1794; CN1-269, 6 juin 1799. ANQ-MBF, CN1-32, 25 juill. 1822; CN1-79, 21 janv. 1818. ANQ–Q, CE1-1, 5 avril 1758, 3 avril 1769. AP, La Nativité-de-Notre-Dame (Bécancour), Livres de comptes, 1819: f.51v; 1827: f.66; 1828: f.68; Notre-Dame de Montréal, boîte 13, chemise 2, 18 janv., 5 mai 1800; Saint-Charles (Lachenaie), Livres de comptes, 1798: f.33; 19–20, 28, 30 août 1798; Sainte-Anne (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines), Livres de comptes, 1795: f. 14v; Sainte-Anne (Yamachiche), Livres de comptes, 1828: f.5; Saint-François-Xavier (Verchères), Livres de comptes, 1817: f. 14b; Saint-Michel (Vaudreuil), Livres de comptes, 1801: ff.133, 137. Arch. des Religieuses hospitalières de Saint-Joseph (Montréal), Affaires temporelles de la communauté, comptabilité, 1799, 1801–10. MAC-CD, Fonds Morisset, 2, dossier Charles Duval. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 3: 585; 7: 492. Robert Derome, “Delezenne, les orfèvres, l’orfèvrerie, 1740–1790” (thèse de ma, univ. de Montréal, 1974). J. E. Langdon, Canadian silversmiths, 1700–1900 (Toronto, 1966). Ramsay Traquair, The old silver of Quebec (Toronto, 1940). Ramsay Traquair and G. A. Neilson, The old church of St. Charles de Lachenaie (Montreal, 1934). “Indian trade silver,” N.B. Museum, Art Bull. (Saint John, N.B.), 6 (1961), no.1. Marius Barbeau, Maîtres artisans de chez nous (Montréal, ); “Deux cents ans d’orfèvrerie chez nous,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., 33 (1939), sect.I: 183–92. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Dominique Rousseau, maître orfèvre et négociant en pelleteries,” BRH, 49 (1943): 343. Gérard Morisset, “Bibelots et futilités,” La Patrie (Montréal), 15 janv. 1950: 14–15; “L’orfèvrerie canadienne,” Technique (Montréal), 22 (1947): 83–88.
Bibliography for the revised version:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Montréal, CE605-S16, 8 févr. 1845. Robert Derome, “Charles Duval orfèvre: Odanak, bijoux de traite, Premières Nations”: rd.uqam.ca/Duval (consulted 13 Sept. 2023).