CHARTRAND, VINCENT (sometimes called Vincennes), master-sculptor and painter; b. 18 July 1795 at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Laval, Que.), son of Vincent Chartrand and Marie-Charlotte Labelle; d. unmarried 26 March 1863 in his native parish.
As early as 1810 Vincent Chartrand was attending Louis-Amable Quévillon*’s school of sculpture at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (commonly known as Les Écorres). Chartrand is mentioned in 1822 as a journeyman sculptor of René Saint-James*, dit Beauvais and he became a master-sculptor in 1824, when he went into partnership with Pierre-Salomon Benoît, dit Marquet, a Beloeil sculptor. The latter contract was suspended two years later, on 8 May 1826, revived in 1828, and terminated in 1834. During this period the names of Chartrand and Benoît were continually associated in important undertakings. In January 1826 the partners undertook to make a new vault and carve bas-reliefs in the parish church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. In that year they also worked on a new jube in the old church of Saint-Ours. The last assignment of the partnership appears to have been on the Île Dupas, where in 1831 substantial payments (£3,624) were made to the two sculptors for interior decoration of the church.
On 8 April 1833, seriously ill, Chartrand dictated a will to notary Jean-Baptiste Constantin of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. This testament is important because it contains a list of parishes to which Chartrand bequeathed money through his partner. These were probably places where the sculptor had exercised his talents. Vincent Chartrand recovered quickly from his illness, however, and after the partnership contract expired in 1834 he abandoned interior architecture and worked exclusively as a sculptor. Benoît apparently had taken advantage of Chartrand’s skill for developing the sculptural detail of buildings, while reserving the structure for himself. Concern with the craftsman’s skill rather than with the over-all conception was characteristic of the Quévillon school. Thus the carvers concentrated on their tasks in the workshop during the winter months, and in summer went to the site to set the units in place; the ensemble (retable, vault, pulpit, and pew) would not necessarily have been conceived as a unit, as the Baillargé works in the Quebec region were.
The second part of Chartrand’s career is distinguished by only a few pieces of sculpture. At Sault-au-Récollet, in 1836, the artist completed a pulpit “whose elegant form and finely carved details excite the admiration of all connoisseurs.” The pulpit at Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville, decorated with reliefs of the four evangelists with the apostles on the banisters, is also his work. His carved figures, such as the one of St Charles-Borromée done for the church at Lachenaie in 1843, and other reliefs and statues, are equally remarkable. From 1845 to 1853, Chartrand made the furnishings for the church of Caughnawaga, in particular three retables, a high altar, and the pulpit. The crowning achievement that, as it were, redeems the whole is undoubtedly the high altar, whose delicate and careful workmanship is in the purest Quévillon tradition.
The sculptures of Vincent Chartrand are gradually being distinguished from the productions of the Quévillon school as a whole. His paintings, however, remain relatively unknown. According to oral tradition, the artist had real talents as a painter. Noticing the daring décolleté of a portrait of Mme Charlotte Pépin, he, it is said, touched it up skilfully. In his second will, dictated in 1838, the artist bequeathed to the Sisters of Providence and to the hospice Saint-Pierre of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul an impressive set of pictures and a collection of prints; the latter represented precious material for a painter of religious themes in the 19th century. Chartrand presumably was the creator of these paintings for few artists of the period possessed collections of religious pictures they had not painted themselves. Finally, at the time of his death in March 1863 Vincent Chartrand bequeathed to his brother Toussaint, a doctor at Saint-Janvier, two paintings done by his own hand, one portraying his father and the other the archangel Gabriel.
Although as yet little known, Vincent Chartrand’s work will occupy an increasingly important place in the history of Quebec art as the study of 19th century religious art in the Montreal region develops.
ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Laval), 18 juill. 1795, 26 mars 1863; Greffe de J.-B. Constantin, 14 sept. 1822, 23 févr. 1824, 2 juin 1828, 8 avril 1833, 21 nov. 1838, 17 mars 1863. IBC, Centre de documentation, Fonds Morisset, Dossier Vincent Chartrand; Dossiers Caughnawaga; île Dupas; Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville; Saint-Ours; Saint-Vincent-de-Paul; Sault-au-Récollet. Gérard Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts en Nouvelle-France (Québec, 1941). Émile Vaillancourt, Une maîtrise d’art en Canada (1800–1823) (Montréal, 1920), 75–76.