Théophile Hamel

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Théophile Hamel
Hamel Self-Portrait 1837.jpg
Théophile Hamel, self-portrait c. 1837
Born(1817-11-08)8 November 1817
Died23 December 1870(1870-12-23) (aged 53)
Nationality Canadian
Known for Painting

Théophile-Abraham Hamel (8 November 1817 23 December 1870) was a Canadian artist who painted mainly portraits and religious images in 19th-century Quebec. [1]



Hamel was born in 1817 in Sainte-Foy (then a suburb of Quebec City), the son of a successful farmer. Hamel's paternal ancestry can be traced to French immigrant Jean Hamel, who arrived in New France from Avremesnil (Normandy) in 1656. In 1834 Théophile was already taking art lessons from Antoine Plamondon. For a while he attended the Accademia di San Luca, in Rome. He was very much interested in the works of the Romantics. [2]


His early portraits show a mixture of European romanticism and Canadian simplicity. His style gradually changed to match the taste of his clients for simple, honest, even prim portraits. [3]

In 1838 he painted 'Three Indian Chiefs Leading a Delegation to Quebec. In 1843, Hamel travelled to Europe (London, Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice, and then north to France and Belgium). [4] In 1846 he returned to Canada to Quebec. Throughout his career he travelled throughout Canada East and Canada West, painting portraits of such notables as Sir John Beverley Robinson, Denis-Benjamin Viger, Sir Allan MacNab, Louis-Joseph Papineau, John Sandfield Macdonald, and Sir Étienne Taché. He worked quickly, often completing a portrait in a single day. [5]

Hamel also painted religious pictures for various commissions, and a series of "imaginative" or "semi-imaginative" portraits of Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, Jean Talon, Montcalm, and General James Murray. The image of Cartier even appeared on a banknote. [6] It is estimated that Hamel painted more than 2000 portraits during his lifetime. [7] In 1848, he painted portraits of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine. In 1850-1, he painted Egerton Ryerson. In 1853, he painted 'Madame Renaud and Her Daughters Wilhemine and Emma'. His painting 'L'Abbé Edouard Faucher', painted in 1855, now hangs at Eglise de Saint-Laurent, Lotbiniere. His painting of Sir Allan MacNab, painted in 1853, hangs in the House of Commons of Canada. [8]


In 1857, at age of 40, he married Mathilde-Georgiana Faribault, daughter of George-Barthélemy Faribault, a pioneer librarian. He died in Quebec City, in December 1870. [9]


Title/subjectArtistDate createdMedium
Robert Baldwin Théophile Hamel1848Oil on canvas
Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Théophile Hamel1848Oil on canvas
Egerton Ryerson Théophile Hamel1850-1Oil on canvas
'Madame Renaud and Her Daughters Wilhemine and Emma'Théophile Hamel1853Oil on canvas
'L'Abbé Edouard Faucher'Théophile Hamel1855Oil on canvas
Jean-Antoine Panet Copy by Théophile Hamel1856Oil on canvas
David William Smith Théophile Hamel1859Oil on canvas
Alexander Macdonell Copy by Théophile Hamel1854Oil on canvas
Levius Peters Sherwood Copy by Théophile Hamel1855Oil on canvas
John Willson Théophile Hamel1855Oil on canvas
Marshall Spring Bidwell Théophile Hamel1854Oil on canvas
Archibald McLean Théophile Hamel1854Oil on canvas
Sir Allan Napier MacNab [n 1] Théophile Hamel1853Oil on canvas
Henry Ruttan Théophile Hamel1856Oil on canvas
Austin Cuvillier Copy by Théophile Hamel1856Oil on canvas
Augustin-Norbert Morin Théophile Hamel1854Oil on canvas
John Sandfield Macdonald Théophile Hamel1854Oil on canvas
Louis-Victor Sicotte Théophile Hamel1855Oil on canvas
Sir Allan MacNab Théophile Hamel1862Oil on canvas
Joseph-Édouard Turcotte Théophile Hamel1865Oil on canvas
Major General James Wolfe Copy by Théophile Hamelcirca 1865Oil on canvas
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm Copy by Théophile Hamelcirca 1865Oil on canvas
George Prevost Copy by Théophile Hamel after Robert Field (circa 1808)1864Oil on canvas

See also


  1. Also sat as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada

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  1. Vézina, Raymond (1976). "Hamel, Théophile". Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  2. Hubbard, p. 34.
  3. R. H. Hubbard, Antoine Plamondon / 1802-1895, Théophile Hamel / 1817-170. Two Painters of Quebec / Deux Peintres de Québec (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1970), pp. 14-34-35.
  4. Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  5. Hubbard, p. 37.
  6. Hubbard, p. 38.
  7. Gérard Morisset, La peinture traditionnelle au Canada français (Ottawa, 1960), p. 118.
  8. Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  9. Hubbard, p. 61.