My current Icon series has been a real pleasure for myself in that it’s refreshing to work on pieces that I realize are only for myself, not worrying if they strike a chord with anyone else. For me, it’s fulfilling to flesh out some of my ancestors and their stories, to give them an image that I an hold on to. As I’ve said these are meant as symbols– I’m not trying to recreate their actual appearance. In most cases, there is nothing to work with, nothing that would give me a clue as to how they might really look. So, this is how I see them in my mind.
The painting at the top is a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is titled Icon: François. He is my 9th gr-grandfather, born in 1640 in the area around Boulogne, France. It is on the English Channel not to far from Calais. He was a soldier in the Grandfontaine Company of the Carignan Regiment, which was sent in 1665 to Quebec in what was then called New France. The troops came in several ships, François arriving in August aboard the ship L’Aigle d’Or— the Golden Eagle.
These 1200 troops were sent to protect the new settlements that France had established and to aide in fort construction along the Richelieu River. They were also sent in order to help populate New France. Some were offered money or land to stay in the new country and build a life there. François, I believe, fell into that category as he showed up soon after in census listings as a master woodworker living in Quebec. While I am not positive that he received any
incentives to stay in New France, such is not the case with his wife and my 9th gr-grandmother, Marguerite Paquet, She was one of the Filles du Roi, or the King’s Daughters. Between 1663 and 1673, King Louis XIV sponsored this program which offered young French women, all single and many orphaned, free transportation and settlement to New France along with a dowry of money or land in the new land if they agreed to marry one of the men living there. You see, the first settlers were overwhelmingly male. I have at least two or three Filles du Roi in my line as do most French Canadians.
François died as relatively young man in 1675 but not before he and Marguerite had three children which set off a long line that runs through Canadian history to today, spawning hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of decendents.
I see François is this painting as an Adam-like character, naked and in a new world that he will help populate, The brushstrokes radiating from the halo represent the generations that descend from the choice he and his wife made to seek a new life in the new world. It’s a simple painting and a relatively simple story– at least as simple as you can make one’s entire life into a short tale.