whether, in fact, it is not the woman who has the upper hand (land) in
this painting, much as she does by means of the narration in Angéline de
Montbrun ? Here it is the composition that not only places her on higher
ground, but on far more extensive ground, the upper part of the canvas,
occupying fully 80 per cent of the canvas. Judging from the flexed right
knee, the young woman seems to be moving upward and onward, not
transfixed by the male figure, as LeMoine and Smart see it. Furthermore,
whereas the man in the lower foreground is relegated to the shadows,
light infuses the upper slope, which ascends vertically, through the fer-
tile pastures, towards the sky, which is itself, as we have seen in Conan's
prose, a symbol of spirituality and transcendence.
In this regard, it is perhaps the painter Ozias Leduc who demon-
strates the closest kinship to Laure Conan. Both are fervent Roman
Catholics, albeit Leduc in a more progressive, less traditional way, as
Robert Fulford explains in setting the historical context for this 'tran-
scendental' painter: 'He came to see faith, science and art as intercon-
nected elements of existence that he could bring together in his work,
an idea he drew from the historical air he breathed in his youth. He
came of age when Catholic intellectuals were influenced by Leo XIII,
who devoted his papacy (1878-1903) to reconciling Christianity with
the new world created by science' (49).
Both Conan and Leduc are also frequently cast as standard-bearers of
French-Canadian nationalism, although Leduc in a less doctrinarian,
more emblematic way, as evidenced in the articles of his friend, the critic
Robert de Roquebrune, who 'makes a case not for the mere preservation
of traditional modes of artistic expression, but for the development of a
vital and truly French-Canadian visual culture' (Gehmacher, 'Authenticity,'
47). In effect, both are also often billed as bridges from traditional to mod-
ern means of expression. Like Conan, Leduc finds art to be 'transcendent'
and 'symbolic' (Beaudry, Ozias Leduc: Les paysages , 9, 10).
Much as Conan saw nature as an echo of the inner self and the land-
scape as a reflection of that relationship, Louise Beaudry finds that for
Leduc 'le paysage constitue un espace dans lequel il dévoile l'essentiel
de sa propre complicité avec la nature' (the landscape constitutes a space
in which he unveils the essence of his own complicity with nature). 26
Like Conan, Leduc uses the sky and light to suggest spirituality and
verticality to connote transcendence (Beaudry, Ozias Leduc: Les pay-
sages , 11, 12). Leduc even wrote a poem on a garden resembling Paradise
(see Lacroix, Ozias , 31) and included gardens in several paintings, but
his Le Cumulus bleu , which dates from 1913 (plate 5), is perhaps the