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tells the tale, not only because it promotes the act of viewing ('Vue') to
a position of prominence over the subject ('Québec'), a mere parenthe-
sis, but also and especially because that viewpoint is an imagined one
('du ciel'), freed from the conventions of a limited point in space and a
specific moment in time that govern traditional perspective, thereby
allowing the imagination to 'soar' over the city. The subject, the city,
nonetheless persists through recognizable buildings, whose position
Leclerc confirmed with aerial photographs and which he uses as refer-
ence points to anchor the composition: the Price building, the only 'sky-
scraper' within the walls of the old city, flanked by the silver steeples of
the seminary to the left and the Holy Trinity Cathedral to the right, and
matched on the far right by the similarly golden dome of the post office,
thus constituting a vertical counterpoint of laic and clerical. In the dis-
tance, on a jetty the customs houses protrude into the Saint Lawrence
River, whose icy white waters border the top of the canvas, just as the
snow-covered parc de l'Esplanade closes the bottom. The relationship of
the buildings then allows us to determine the vantage point from which
they are 'seen': hovering over the row of adjoining multicoloured
houses on the rue d'Auteuil, which lies just inside the western walls of
the old city.
Moreover, this initial liberating step of freeing the viewpoint inaugu-
rates a parade of others. First, the loosening of line frees the shapes of the
houses and allows Leclerc to emphasize the interplay of their colours,
such as the run of reds up the middle of the canvas. At the same time the
buildings, no longer mere facades masking those that lie behind them,
acquire a certain volume and assume a certain position in relation to
each other and to the entire grid that defines the overall configuration of
the city. Complementing the vertical buildings, the nearly horizontal
band of the row of houses on the rue d'Auteuil is repeated in the rectan-
gular roof and side of the Ursuline convent just behind it, while the or-
thogonal lines they initiate are intersected by the diagonal originating at
the post office, reinforced by the cathedral, and continued by the rue
Sainte-Anne, which slices by the Price building towards the lower left
corner, thereby, from this angle of vision, dividing the old city into two
triangles, the upper one terminating with the seminary steeple.
Freed also are the very hallmarks of Leclerc's art: texture from matter,
light from time. Perceived (conceived) from a relatively removed dis-
tance in space, the building materials no longer dictate the texture, as
with the effect of stone and mortar obtained in Leclerc's Porte Saint-Louis
(figure 9.1); seen (envisaged) at an indeterminate moment in time, light
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