Zacharie Vincent and his son, self-portrait, c. 1845
Born in 1815 in a Huron village near Lorreteville, Quebec, Zacharie Vincent – also called Telari-o-lin (Huron for unmixed or undivided) – claimed to be the last Huron.
Vincent is known to have painted about 12 self-portraits that document his ageing appearance. Although Vincent painted other scenes of traditional Huron life, such as camping, canoeing and snowshoe making, the self-portraits are by far his strongest work and were perhaps a way for him to perpetuate the image of his people in the face of the Huron’s assimilation by European culture.
The occasion of having his portraits painted in 1838 by eminent Quebec artist Antoine Plamondon is believed to have inspired Vincent to take up the brush himself. His celebrity as the subject of Plamondon’s prizewinning portrait was furthered two years later with the publication of the poem The last Huron by renowned Québécois poet François-Xavier Garneau. According to historiographical tradition, the Huron artist’s training was confined to a little artistic advice from Plamondon.
He died in Quebec City in 1886.
Vincent’s work falls into three main groups: portraits of himself in traditional costume, sketches depicting traditional activities of his people, and landscape paintings of Ancienne-Lorette.
Vincent produced drawings and paintings.
Some of his canvases are in the Musée national des beau-arts du Québec, and others in the Musée du Château Ramezay and the Musée d’Odanak.
Source: Anne Newlands, Canadian art from its beginnings to 2000, Firefly books, Canada, 2000; Dictionary of Canadian Biography online