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“Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh

Representation as Colonial Rhetoric: the image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada by Gillian Poulter

The article by Gillian Poulter argues that painting was used by the British and French as a means of creating, developing, and maintaining an identity. The formation of these colonial identities resulted in natives being portrayed as merely historical figures in northern America. Poulter, however, argues that there is no clear indication of a double image being created by art where the natives were portrayed more positively. He states that art was not able to be done without creating a conflict within the art images being done or within the artistic and literary community1.

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Poulter suggests that the years between 1820 and 1850, saw art being used as a breeding ground for common practices that offered a channel of communication for the colonialists. This made it possible for the designing of culture and developing it according to their needs and desires. The colony (natives) could now be molded according to what the colonialists wanted. Poulter further argues that Joseph Legare’s artistic representations of the natives were purposely a counter of the re-representations of British painter2.

There was an attitude to try and preserve the historical picture but for Legare, his main aim was an attempt to preserve the history and culture of particularly the French-Canadians. This was referred to as a counter-narrative. The method and notion behind the representations of the natives and the French-Canadian people greatly contributed to the social construction of the reality that witnessed especially in post-conquest Quebec. Poulter states that this precipitated the creation of the British and French colonial identity3.

The drawing, sketches, or watercolor representations were done in a very different way to depict the different groups (the wealthy and the natives). The images all seemed to codify the position held by the wealthy in the community and that of the natives.

Poulter states that examination of such representations of art shows there is an evident underlying structural pattern that is repetitive. Organizational territorial representation was constantly apparent and was used to depict the inhabitants in oppositional zones of occupation. Professional artists usually published their sketches in lithographic form unaccompanied by text but able to create a narrative. A manipulated form of picturesque painting popularized by William Gilpin was also used especially in creating the contrast between two objects4.

This form was based on variety and contrast. Poulter quotes Gilpin as saying that to make an object in a peculiar manner picturesque, there must be a notion of roughness to it. The creation of opposition to the object results in the object becoming simply beautiful. This formed the basis of the representations of the natives as a historical figure so that the French and British colonialist image could be developed.

At first, this was used to show the Canadian landscape which had rocks and broken ground, hovels and shacks, gypsies, and beggars. To most artists, this acted as a primary source of characteristics for their picturesque paintings/work of arts. With time they started applying this contrast in social as well as visual experiences. To explain this well, Emerson commented that “the steep contrasts of condition create the picturesque in society”5.

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Molinari and the Science of Color and Line by Robert Welsh

Whilst the article, “Representation as a colonial rhetoric: the image of ‘the native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada” by Gillian Poulter talks about art and its social impact on the natives, Robert Welsh in his article, “Molinari and the Science of Colour and Line” focus on Guido Molinari’s form of art. Welsh’s argument is that Molinari’s thirty years of a professional painting generated several underlying paradoxes that fueled and sustained his creativeness6.

Welsh affirms that Molinari wholly based his works, ideas, and notions on the art of Piet Mondrian. This created the paradigm that is the progressive spirit in the art world. Mondrian’s attempt to destroy remnants of three-dimensional space but found cubism and his accurate analysis of lock’s contribution to the art world played a very vital role in Molinari’s further development in art. Welsh argues that Molinari had a sense of indebtedness towards Mondrian.

However, art critics have described Mondrian as a permanent revolt against his own style albeit being among those worthy of mention in the art world. Molinari also falls in this category as he has been inclined from time to time to seek style renewal which started when he came into contact with Mondrian art in 19517.

Welsh unlike Poulter, focuses on the basis and reason for his subject’s form of art. He focuses extensively on Mondrian and gives reference to Molinari from time to time. This is done to try and explain how Molinari came about his style of art. Poulter, on the other hand, gives a wider explanation by not focusing entirely on one particular background but offering an explanation for the portrayal of natives from a wide range of sources. Poulter does not focus on a person who used a certain form but rather on the form of art itself. Similarly, both writers are trying to explain the art and the forms of art particularly employed in the early 1800s8.

Bibliography

Poulter, Gillian. “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric. The image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada.” Journal of Canadian Art History XVI, no 4 (1994): 10-29.

Welsh, Robert. “Molinari and the Science of Colour and Line” RACAR V no 1, (1978): 3-20.

Footnotes

  1. Gillian, Poulter. “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric. The image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada.” Journal of Canadian Art History XVI, no 4 (1994): 10-29.
  2. Gillian, Poulter. “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric. The image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada.” Journal of Canadian Art History XVI, no 4 (1994): 10-29.
  3. Gillian, Poulter. “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric. The image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada.” Journal of Canadian Art History XVI, no 4 (1994): 10-29.
  4. Gillian, Poulter. “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric. The image of ‘the Native’ and ‘the habitant’ in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada.” Journal of Canadian Art History XVI, no 4 (1994): 10-29.
  5. Robert, Welsh. “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” RACAR V no 1, (1978): 3-20.
  6. Robert, Welsh. “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” RACAR V no 1, (1978): 3-20.
  7. Robert, Welsh. “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” RACAR V no 1, (1978): 3-20.
  8. Robert, Welsh. “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” RACAR V no 1, (1978): 3-20..

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 10). “Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh. https://studycorgi.com/representation-as-colonial-rhetoric-by-poulter-and-molinari-and-the-science-of-color-and-line-by-welsh/

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"“Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh." StudyCorgi, 10 Feb. 2021, studycorgi.com/representation-as-colonial-rhetoric-by-poulter-and-molinari-and-the-science-of-color-and-line-by-welsh/.

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StudyCorgi. "“Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh." February 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/representation-as-colonial-rhetoric-by-poulter-and-molinari-and-the-science-of-color-and-line-by-welsh/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh." February 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/representation-as-colonial-rhetoric-by-poulter-and-molinari-and-the-science-of-color-and-line-by-welsh/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Representation as Colonial Rhetoric” by Poulter and “Molinari and the Science of Color and Line” by Welsh'. 10 February.

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