ArtworksJames Wilson MorriceSouth Portal of Saint-Jacques de Dieppe, 1909 (circa)1865-1924CAD 115,000
Inscriptionsstudio stamp, 'STUDIO J.W. MORRICE' (verso, middle); inscribed in white pencil, ‘GIVEN TO R / [NAME WITHHELD AS A / WEDDING PRESENT / BY HIS GODMOTHER / AUNT ANNIE LAW’(verso, top); inscribed in ballpoint pen on a label, ‘Wedding gift to [redacted] / 1952 by his Godmother, Aunt / Annie Law. / A portal of the Cathedral of Quimper circa 1905-1906. / See #84. Sketch - page 78 / Montreal Collection. Gift E. & David Morrice / Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ (verso, bottom)*
Estate of James Wilson Morrice;
William Scott & Sons, executors of the Estate of J.W. Morrice, Montreal.
Mrs. Alan G. Law (née Annie Morrice);
Wedding gift of the above to close friends, Westmount, Quebec, October, 1952;
Estate of the above.
This sunny view represents the south portal of Saint-Jacques de Dieppe (Normandy), seen from the paved space leading to it from Rue Sainte-Catherine (fig. 1). The style of the gable, and the absence of a protecting roof over the porch, distinguish it from the north portal opening onto the busy Place Nationale and its market. Morrice had painted the north portal twice, in rather dark tones (private collection; and Mackenzie AG),(fig. 2).
Saint-Jacques is close to Dieppe’s avant-port, where the ferries to and from Britain docked; the Paris train conveniently brought travelers right to the quay. No doubt Morrice took this route many times on short trips to London, or en route to board a transatlantic at Southampton. His sketchbooks and other documents reveal many trips, including longer stays in June 1906 and September 1909. In June 1913, he visited the British painter Walter Richard Sickert at his new house near Dieppe. Sickert himself had painted Saint-Jacques many times, in series reminiscent of Monet’s Cathedrals, focusing on the west (main) facade, or the south portal seen between the two sides of Rue Pecquet. In 1907 he painted a rare sunny view from the left side (Musée des Beaux-arts de Rouen, loaned to the Château de Dieppe), and it is perhaps him who suggested the subject to Morrice. Being a rare one for the Canadian painter, it is harder to date this sketch.
Perhaps the foliage can help... The outlining in pencil is also found in 1909-10 drawings (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Sketchbook #15); contemporary postcards, like the one in figure 1 image, show that the young trees remained staked for a few years before 1910. A stronger clue is the tree near the right border, which has already turned yellow, suggesting the 1909 trip: after working hard for the Salon d’Automne, Morrice went “to Dieppe to get a breath of air" (letter to Edmund Morris, “Dieppe Sept 14", Art Gallery of Ontario Archives, CAC Fonds), something he found on this sunny day.
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