Krieghoff in Context: Souvenir Paintings of the Habitant Community in Nineteenth-Century British North America
Library & Archives Canada, 2006 - 85 pages
This thesis examines Krieghoff's habitant paintings both in their historical context and through the lens of recent studies of tourism. In doing so, it posits that, as souvenirs, Krieghoff's paintings of the habitant can be fruitfully interrogated in terms of the British tourist gaze. The British viewed the habitants as unique and exotic, as well as premodern, simple and boisterous. These characteristics, which were discussed in contemporary travel guides and newspaper articles, can also be seen in Krieghoff's representations. Thus, British tourists purchased images that matched their perceptions of the habitants. In turn, Krieghoff's paintings also acted as visual support of British dominance. Displaying images of those the British saw as different, and more specifically premodern, allocated the habitants to a distant past and facilitated their imagined removal from contemporary society. This also worked to emphasize them as non-threatening and unprogressive, which was in keeping with the colonizer's belief that, rather than challenging British authority, French Canadians actually needed British assistance. Even Krieghoff's emphasis on the boisterous nature of the habitants was in keeping with this view; British opinion that the habitants were unruly justified British rule.
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