BÉCART DE GRANVILLE ET DE FONVILLE, CHARLES (he signed Fonville, but was often called Sieur de Granville), king’s attorney, draughtsman, and cartographer; baptized 31 May 1675 at Quebec, son of Pierre Bécart de Granville and Marie-Anne Macard; d. 2 Jan. 1703 at Quebec, and buried the same day in the church there.
The son of an officer in the Carignan-Salières regiment, Charles first intended to follow a military career. In 1694 he was an ensign in the Marine, then, at least in 1695 and 1696, he served on the frigate Bouffonne. It therefore seemed that he was to follow the example of his brother Louis, who was two years older than he and who had begun his career in the navy in France in 1687. But it was Jean-Baptiste, born in 1670, king’s attorney in the provost court of Quebec since 1695, that he was to succeed. When Jean-Baptiste died on 23 April 1699, Callière and Bochart de Champigny asked the minister to consent to nominate to this post young Charles Bécart, who would reach his majority the following year. On 20 April 1700 the king signed the desired commission, and on 11 October the Conseil Souverain admitted Bécart to his office as king’s attorney. But two years later Bécart, still a bachelor, was attacked by the smallpox epidemic which was ravaging the colony at that time, and on 2 Jan. 1703 he died.
Charles Bécart had a great talent for drawing; according to Callière and Champigny he was even a genius. He had prepared some maps, and an admirable Vue de Québec (1699?). In 1700 he declared himself ready to teach cartography, which the intendant and the governor thought he alone was capable of doing. Their enthusiasm for Bécart’s gifts was long shared by historians, who credited him with sketches published in 1930 in Paris and entitled Les Raretés des Indes. These drawings are now attributed to Louis Nicolas, a defrocked Jesuit, who had been a missionary in New France from 1667 to 1675. But the fact remains that Bécart, as is proved by his maps and more especially by his Vue de Québec, had a good deal of talent, spontaneity, and freshness, and that his premature death deprived New France of a remarkable artist.
Jug. et délib., IV, 487. P.-G. Roy, Inv. ins. Cons. souv., 100. Gareau, “La prévôté de Québec,” 106f. Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport,1953–55, 531f. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, I, 716. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 42, 401. Harper, Painting in Canada. Morisset, La peinture traditionnelle au C. f., 18f. P.-G. Roy, La famille Bécard de Grandville (Lévis, 1914); Fils de Québec, I, 92f., 97f.