I have painted the former Montreal Exchange Building on more than occasion. I painted this rendition in 2005. It is reproduced on page 101 in the book Carnets de Montreal de A à Z … en mots et en images, text written by François Barcelo.
Sitting on rue de l’Hôpital I am looking west towards rue Saint-François-Xavier. I remember well what had attracted me to paint the scene – the crisp light cutting across the façade of the columns and peeking through the grey building at the right. Sunlight pierces through the narrow Saint-François-Xavier Street and illuminates the theatre’s ornate frontage only for a brief period in the morning. The sidewalk where I sat to paint the 12 in. x 9 in. watercolor is so narrow that passersby had to step into the street to avoid bumping into me that particular morning.
In order to situate the building within old Montreal, I wanted to include Notre-Dame Basilica in the scene. From where I was sitting the church steeples seen at top left were not very visible. Using artistic license I “moved” this historic place of worship south to make it more visible. However, in order to give prominence to the Stock Exchange building, I muted and blended the grey tones of the basilica into the background sky and trees.
On the 14th of June, 2006 I sat on the steps of the Centaur Theatre and painted the same street scene again. However, judging from the direction of the light hitting the foreground cars, you will notice that the street is in late afternoon light. It was a warm muggy day as the sky is tinted ochre and the light effect is somewhat misty. The ochre tone of the sky and theatre façade at left complements and contrasts the blue/purple of the right side of the scene. I was particularly happy with the way the bright light peeked under the dark underside of the white truck. At some point during the painting session some tourists walked up the inclined street. I rendered them in dark silhouette against the non-distinct background buildings to create drama.
I was back in front of this historic Old Montreal building a third time on the 17th of July, 2010. Once more I sat on rue de l’Hôpital, the same street where I painted the first rendition illustrated above. I was again facing the huge columns looking east. However, this time I was much closer to the building since I wished to paint a detailed view of the Roman columns and render the time-worn stonework. I drew the sketch on a sheet of Strathmore Aquarius II paper with a felt marker, 03 point. Then I added a watercolor wash in tones of Ochre and Burnt Sienna. It is treated in a vignette manner where I do not finish the painting right up to the edges but leave some of the paper untouched. If you look closely towards the top of the watercolor, you can read the Roman Numerals MCMIII, indicating that the building was erected in 1903.
This version of the Centaur Theatre appears in the second book I illustrated: Carnets du Vieux-Montréal. My friend and author-illustrator, Yvon Masse, collaborated with me on this book. It is published by Les Heures Bleue and is available for purchase, along with my first publication, in most book stores and in museum boutiques. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Centaur is a well-known Montreal venue for Engish theatre. The play Thinking of Yu, by playright – Carole Fréchette, produced by Imago Theatre, will be played between April 24 to May 4th here. You can contact http://www.imagotheatre.ca for tickets and information. For contributions to the indiegogo crowdfunding campaign you can contact Angela at email@example.com.
Raynald Murphy SCA