It was on the initiative of the Fondation Émile Nelligan – created by Gilles Corbeil, the poet’s nephew – that the bust of Émile Nelligan was erected, in partnership with the Ville de Montréal. The artwork is installed in Saint-Louis Square, a few steps from Nelligan’s house on Avenue Laval. The placement of the bust is also a reminder of the square’s connection with Québec literature and arts. All of the young poet’s ardour is captured in this artwork. The portrait was executed from the best-known photograph of Nelligan as a young man, in which his expression combines reverie and boldness. Roseline Granet conveys, using just a few elements, the torment and transcendence of the romantic figure with the tragically shortened literary career: the dishevelled shirt collar and hair about to fly away, the eyes conveying a slight fear and an attitude frozen in time.
Émile Nelligan, born in Montréal on 24 December 1879, was the first modern Québec poet. His academic record gave little hint of the greatness of his genius. He enrolled in Collège Sainte-Marie at age 17 but dropped out a year later and began to live a bohemian life. In 1896, under the pseudonym Émile Kovar, Nelligan published his first poem, “Rêve fantastique”; in 1897, he joined the École littéraire de Montréal. In 1899, his dazzling rise came to a sudden stop due to mental illness, and he was confined to the Refuge Saint-Benoît. His death was recorded on 18 November 1941, at the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu psychiatric hospital. His tragic life and the intensity of his work are inscribed in the Québec imagination as an inspiration to outdo oneself in art.
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Categories: Attractions, Public art
Card created: 09/2015 (last modified: 09/2015)
GPS coordinates: 45°30'58.94"N, 73°34'13.38"W
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