Biography: Philomène Belliveau

Philomène Belliveau (1854-1940)

Philomène Belliveau was born in 1854 at Memramcook, New Brunswick. She obtained a general education at Reed’s Castle (the Convent of the Sisters of Sacré Cœur) in Saint John. In 1889, she travelled to Boston take courses in drawing and painting. Her pastel drawings caught the eye of politicians and members of the clergy, and were in great demand by 1891. Many references in newspapers of the day confirm not only her popularity but also her talent. After she married Judge Garon in Montreal (1904), she lived in Shediac and Rimouski. She travelled to Europe in 1925. She died in Rimouski in 1940.


Before the invention of photography, portraits were painted or drawn. The popularity of drawn portraits to decorate the walls of homes persisted long after the advent of the camera, right into the 1920s and 1930s. This charcoal portrait, dating from the end of the last century, was probably drawn from a small photograph or from the live model.

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