Arts Council For Painters BC, Canada

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François Malépart de Beaucourt and Portrait of a Haitian Woman (1786)             

François Malépart de Beaucourt François Malépart de Beaucourt is a French – Canadian painter born in Québec, considered to be the first painter to derive his technique from Europe. Beaucourt studied in France under the guidance of Joseph-Gaétant Camagne. According to records, it must have been his father who influenced him to paint. However, there is little information as to some specific eras in his life. In the later years of 1770, Beaucourt started painting several art pieces such as the curtains of the boxes and stage of the Grand-Théâtre of Bordeaux and the chapel of the Benedictine monastery of La Réole. Many additions would come in his later years.

In 1792, Beaucourt stayed in Philadelphia where he advertised his skills and expressed that he wanted to take some students. In June of 1792, a similar advertisement appeared in the Montreal Gazette, however, the painter no longer identified himself as French but rather Canadian. In the same month, a newspaper published another advertisement saying that Beaucort has just arrived in Canada.

paintingOne of Beaucort’s rare and interesting paintings is the so called Portrait of a Negro Slave or Negress (1786) or presently known as the Portrait of a Haitian Woman (1786). The painting depicts the social status of the subject as well as her race. The Canadian portrait indicates a shift from Western oil portraiture.

The painting is by far the best professionally made representation of black slave in Québec and Canada. The sexuality that the painting exudes showing part of the breast represents the kind of state that slaves during that time experienced and their vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation. The painting also explains the economic value of the subject being a black slave. Beaucort’s portrait immensely influenced the view of people towards black women, as they gradually became considered as sex slaves and objects.

According to historical records, Beaucort completed the painting in Saint-Domingue known now as Haiti. The painter was said to have stayed in the place in the height of the Haitian Revolution where slavery was rampant and has one of the harshest conditions. This many have possibly pushed Beaucort to depict the tragedy that black women experienced during that time.

More records suggests that the subject of the portrait is a woman named Marie-Thérèse-Zémire which Beaucort and his wife owned in Montreal. The painting is currently displayed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Avoid Giclee Prints At All Costs

Giclee prints are are not fine art. Unfortunately many artists are trying to pass them off as fine art prints and consumers are falling for it.

Aren’t all prints the same?

The difference between a fine art print and a commercial print is: A fine art print is hand made using the traditional methods of printmaking; Woodcut, etching, screenprint lithography or mono-prints. Giclee prints are commercially made by the click of a finger and have no human touch to them other than the cheek of the artist hand signing them and even numbering them as if they are fine art.

They are nothing more than a reproduction. Even a giclee print signed by Picasso would only be worth the same as a signature alone.

A fine art print has been printed from either a hand crafted plate, block, stone or screen. It has been meticulously inked with fine detail by the artist between 30 minutes to 6 hours (if complex enough) and that’s for just one print! In the case of a reduction woodcut block, the printing process can take up to 12 weeks or more.

A hand drawn printing press is used to press the print. This is done once at a time with great care. etching press

Because this process is 100% hand produced, no two prints are ever the same. There will always be subtle nuances that makes each piece an original piece of art. Because of the big difference between a good print and a bad one, a printmaker will make at least 3 different editions. The “working proofs”, a numbered edition (which he sells) and the “artists proofs” (which he keeps)

The “working proofs” are the prints that didn’t come out quite perfect… it might have a slight inked fingerprint at the corner of the paper, or not quite enough vibrancy… or an un-noticable smudge somewhere in the image. These prints are deemed slightly faulty and are signed with a W/P (working proof) then the number of the edition. These types of prints are often given away by the artist or sold cheaply.

The numbered edition is signed to signify the number of prints completed for sale.

The “artists proofs” are the best quality prints out of the whole printing process. The artist picks out the best 10%-15% and editions them A/P (artist proof) and then the edition number. These prints are often kept and/or swapped with other artists. printmaking

As you can see there is a great deal of effort with traditional printmaking opposed to pumping out reproductions at a click of a finger. Artistic greats like Picasso, Dali, Mattise and Renior to name a few were all talented printmakers like they were painters.

If you choose to buy a traditional printmaking over worthless giclee, there is a chance you will have collectable piece.