Letter to the Editor:
As the only person sufficiently interested in Sir Isaac Brock to make a decade-long study of his various portraits (most of which are spurious), I was apprehensive at the news of yet another statue of the great man. This because I knew that all previous attempts to accurately represent Brock’s likeness in posthumous works of art had failed miserably. The problem in each case was a lack of visual information.
Just two portraits of Brock are known to be authentic. One is a watercolour miniature which shows him as a young ensign in 1785; the other is a small profile, painted in pastels and dating to 1809 or 1810. The profile portrait is the most relevant to Canadian history, as it depicts Brock just a few years before he achieved fame as the “Hero of Upper Canada.” Unfortunately, it also leaves much to be desired, namely the other side of the hero’s illustrious face.
The only way to fill this void was by means of artistic license, and the results were always the same: more imagined than real.
But in the case of the most recent attempt to immortalize Brock, I was cautiously optimistic that things might be different. After all, the artist chosen to undertake the work was Danek Mozdzenski, the same sculptor who gave us the statue of Lester B. Pearson on Parliament Hill – a spot-on rendition of the Canadian prime minister.
I lived in hope that he might be able to achieve his goal by combining the aforementioned accurate images, while at the same time keeping artistic license to an absolute minimum.
(Guy St-Denis is researching a new biography of Sir Isaac Brock, and in the process he has become well versed on the hero’s portraiture)
* The aforementioned authentic portraits of Sir Isaac Brock are displayed below, courtesy of Guernsey Museums & Galleries.