In addition to its cathedral and a host of religious institutions, Québec could boast public secular buildings with consecrated spaces set aside for religious devotion. Participation in masses and religious ceremonies was de rigueur for officials in New France, and often gave way to disputes between governing elites over matters of social precedence in rank. Order of entry into a church or public processions and seating during masses all occasioned heated arguments whose reverberations sometimes made their way across the Atlantic.
Floorplans of the château from 1723 offer no indication that an interior space at the château served as a chapel during the governorship of Philippe de Rigaud. His 1726 inventory mentions two crimson damask carreaux with gold trim and tassels. These square cushions, used during worship or prayer, likely resembled ones illustrated in an ex-voto of Madame Riverin, completed in Québec in the early eighteenth century. Perhaps Philippe de Rigaud and the marquise used them at the cathedral or in private devotion in a bedchamber or cabinet at the château.
Philippe de Rigaud is also known to have owned religious art at his private Montréal residence, the hôtel de Vaudreuil. These were all found in the hôtel's salle, or public reception room, and inventoried in 1726. A painting of the Virgin and Infant Christ in a gilt frame, a framed crucifix, and a small painting of Saint-Louis were appraised alongside maps of Montréal and two portraits of the king and queen.
Pehr Kalm, a Swedish naturalist who visited the British and French colonies in the 1740s, mentioned a chapel in the courtyard of the château Saint-Louis in 1749. According to Kalm, Roland-Michel Barrin, marquis de La Galissonière and governor-general, recited morning and evening prayers there and often attended the neighboring Recollect church, damaged in 1759 and lost to fire in 1796. This chapel was likely still standing in the following the decade. Although the records are silent regarding their religious life at the château, it is possible that this chapel was used by Pierre de Rigaud and his wife. Although lambasted by some for unscrupulous commercial activity in New Orleans in the 1740s, the marquise was known for her piety. Both she and her husband maintained ties with the Confraternity of the Holy Family, a charitable lay group founded by the first bishop of Québec, François de Laval, in 1665. Madame de Rigaud was elected its Honorary Superior in 1755. The marquis de Montcalm commented on the devotion displayed by the governor-general and his wife in 1757.
Surviving sculpted works from the period include profile and frontal portraits representing Christ and the Virgin. The medallions below are eighteenth-century sculpted profiles of Christ and the Virgin Mary, inspired by the work of François Girardon (1628-1715), a well known sculptor to Louis XIV. Dupuy owned works by a rival artist, Antoine Coysevox, who he considered a personal friend. Girardon's work was considered just as prestigious, however, and it is possible that Dupuy owned work inspired by Girardon in addition to the one known piece by Coysevox.
Displaying a more refined sculpture, the pair of marble profiles represents the very best of Girardon's models. In contrast, the second, rougher image bears witness to the important influence of the sculptor in the creation of similar medallion profiles.
Although not exclusive to use in a church or chapel, two ivory crucifixes were also among the ex-intendant's confiscated goods. These objects speak to devotional practice and trends adopted by Dupuy. As noted in other posts, Dupuy's library was possibly the greatest private collection of its time in North America. Hundreds of volumes covered subjects as diverse as hydraulics, ancient Rome, French history, economy, and law. Dupuy also owned several dozen volumes on religion, including Bibles, biographies of saints, and Church history.
Crucifixes were common fixtures in elite bedchambers. I saw this practice recreated at Louisbourg, seen in my photograph of a room in the Engineer's House. Dupuy's two ivory crucifixes were displayed on black velvet and likely framed so as to be hung on a wall. The following two crucifixes from the turn of the eighteenth century demonstrate the variety that could be had, both in terms of frame and with respect to the sculpture of the ivory Christ figure.
Thanks to Rosalie Mercier-Méthé, doctoral student in history of art at the Université Laval, for information on La Galissonière's chapel at the château Saint-Louis.
Merci à Rosalie Mercier-Méthé, étudiante en doctorat en histoire de l'art à l'Université Laval, pour les renseignements sur la chapelle de La Galissonière au château Saint-Louis.