There are places that draw the soul out of its state of lethargy, places covered and bathed in mystery, chosen from eternity
At the very tip of the Gaspe Peninsula, the breathtaking beauty of Perce's landscapes is ostensibly a gift from the gods...The amazing creations of many international artists are clearly a tribute to so much beauty.
Here are for the record a series of dates, events and names that show the rich art inspired by Perce:
We owe the oldest known images of Percé to talented cartographers who travelled along with expeditions, out to discover new lands. Some maps dating as far as the early 16th century, visibly locate the site under the so-called names of Cap Pratto or Cap du Pré as well as the more obvious one of Isle Percée (Pierced Island).Early travel logs, which include those of Jacques Cartier (1534-1542), Samuel de Champlain (1603-1629), Nicolas Denys (1672) and Chrestien Leclercq (1691), helped to better know the region. Circa 1685, the oldest and very first illustration of the famous Perce Rock was entitled Rade de l'Isle Percée (Haven of Pierced Island)
During the British Conquest of 1760, Captain Hervey Smyth drew the View of the Pierced Island which states: A remarkable Rock in the Gulf of St Laurence. Two Leagues to the Southward of Gaspé Bay.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the untamed landscapes of Percé fascinated painters and poets as well as emerging photographers in search of picturesque views. Thomas Pye 1864 photographs of Percé were used two years later for the lithographic drawings of Images de la Gaspésie au XIXe siècle (19th Century Images of the Gaspé).
Around 1870, photographer Louis Fontaine of the Studio Livernois and William Notman, one of Canada's most prominent photographers, took beautiful pictures of the area landscapes as well as of hardworking fishermen cutting cod. The site dramatic mood gave birth to many legends such as La Légende du Rocher Percé, a tale of love between Blanche de Beaumont and Raymond de Nérac, and Le Prisonnier du Rocher, a sad love story between Méjiga and a young Iroquois Chief.
Towards 1887, American painter Frederick James (1845-1907) built his residence on top of Cape Canon where his workshop soon became the meeting place of famous American artists including painter Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Paul Strand.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Percé lived its so-called Golden Age of the Arts as it attracted numerous film directors, painters, photographers, poets and writers. In 1936, artist Edwin Holgate painted Vue vers le rocher Percé. In 1938, Paul-Émile Borduas worked in Percé as a photographer. For many years, Percé inspired some of Canada most prominent artists whose works now grace the walls of top Canadian museums and who include:
|Bercovitch, Alexander||Blackwood, Frederick|
|Borduas, Paul-Émile||Breton, André|
|Bruneau, Kittie||Cloutier, Albert|
|Desaulniers, Gonzalve||Désilets, E. L.|
|Dumouchel, Albert||Fortin, Marc-Aurèle|
|Fraser, John-Arthur||Hamel, Théophile|
|Harris, Robert||Henderson, Hedley V.|
|Holgate, Edwin||Hébert, Adrien|
|Hurtubise, Jacques||Mount, Rita|
|O'Brien, Lucius||Pilot, Robert|
While exiled in New-York during World War II, French writer André Breton spent the summer of 1944 in Percé where he found the inspiration for Arcane 17. In 1946, poet Yvan Groll wrote Le Mythe de la Roche Percée.
Towards the 1950s, tourism in the area definitely soared. American photographer Lida Moser gave immortality to Percé in her 1950 pictures. Robert Choquette wrote Suite Marine. while spending time in Percé in 1953. As of 1957 and for several years thereafter, the Charles Robin Company old barn became the Arts Centre of Alberto Tommi (1917-1959) and Suzanne Guité (1927-1981), housing a café, a cinema, a dancing area, an exhibit room and a theatre. In 1961, painter Kittie Bruneau lived year-round on Bonaventure Island until the expropriation.
Drawing : Jacques Harvey
Skies in Percé took on the colours of political turmoil during Québec counter-culture movement of the 70s: Eloquent graffiti remain today as the record of this important page in the history of Québec politics. Since its opening in 1983, the Chafaud Museum has presented each summer the works of artists inspired by Percé: Paul Béliveau, Paul-Émile Borduas, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Francine Simonin, Françoise Sullivan, just to name a few. Well worth mentioning is the exclusive exhibit at the Chafaud in 2000: Les très riches heures, by Canada's most prominent artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle. Today, painters and sculptors welcome visitors in their workshops while many art galleries have opened in and around Percé. In the summer of 2002, Laval University International Summer School of Visual Arts and Architecture launched its summer classes at the Frederick James Villa.