Les Duchesses

  •   $100
    | 11"x14"
      Edition of 150
  •   $250
    | 16"x20"
      Edition of 50
  •   $500
    | 20"x24"
      Edition of 25
  •   $1,000
    | 30"x40"
      Edition of 5
  •   $1,500
    | 40"x50"
      Edition of 5

The prints you receive are archival, chromogenic prints on a semi-matte paper with a longevity of 100+ years under normal light conditions.

The quoted dimensions refer to the paper size, and not the size of image contained within the paper. Each image is printed with a minimum 1/4" border to allow for framing, and ships with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist.

Geneviève Thauvette
Les Duchesses, 2012
from the series Les Filles Du Roi

Les Filles du Roi (the King's Daughters) is the name given to the large group of young women sent from France to Canada in the 17th century as brides of the state. Approximately 800 selected girls, mostly orphans and some widows, were provided with a dowry from King Louis XIV to help populate the fledgling colony. On average, they were wed within four to five months of their arrival and would bear 7 to 8 children. These women, often ill-perceived as prostitutes or "filles de joie", helped double the population over the duration of the ten-year migration program from 1663-1673. Systematically, a nation was founded on their backs.

This project chronicles their journey referencing the visual language found in heraldry, as an early form of political branding. Each scene was constructed using cardboard cutouts and digital manipulation to create a theatrical three-dimensional coat of arms. The images are full of stereotypes and allegorical references that  allude to French-Canadian culture;  the cans of pepsi, the bonnehome, and the official motto of Quebec "je me souviens" (I remember).

“Duchesses” is the term used to designate the women competing for the crown at the Carnaval de Québecʼs beauty competition. The girls would have had plenty of choice for a partner once in New France. All but one of the 737 women sent over during this time married, and in many ways, the scarcity of women gave these girls an unsurpassed level of control. The “Miss Valérie” sash worn by the ballerina is a nod to the once scandalous québecois film, "Valérie". The filmʼs protagonist, Danielle Ouimet, was crowned Miss Province de Quebec prior to her notorious starring role. It was once a common phrase to warn girls to “Ne fait pas ta Valérie” (not act like Valerie). The auction paddles held by the “Bonhommes” refers to the number of women recruited (737) and of these the number of Parisians (265). The Motto, “une chaussure pour chaque pied” (a shoe for every foot) was crudely expressed by the Baron Lahontan to describe the variety of women available (although the homogeny of their spoken French helped harmonize the language and create the French spoken in Québec today).

MORE FROM Geneviève Thauvette...