Vers / circa 1820
Collection : Archidioc√É¬®se de Qu√É¬©bec / Archdiocese of Quebec
Laurent Amiot (1764 Qu√É¬©bec √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú 1839 Qu√É¬©bec)
19.5 (height) x 11 (diameter with handle) cm
Hallmark under the base: L. A
Engraved on the belly: a cross and E. Q. (for √É¬©v√É¬™que de Qu√É¬©bec or Bishop of Quebec)
A ewer for ablutions or a bishop√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs ewer is a vessel in the shape of a ewer√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚthat is a vase with a base a spout and a handle√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚused to pour the water for ablutions during pontifical masses and by celebrating priests during liturgical ceremonies. The ewer for ablutions is usually accompanied by a basin√Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚfor ablutions. It is sometimes in the form of a human or an animal in which case it is called aquamanile.
This ewer was created around 1820 when Joseph Octave Plessis (March 3 1763 √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú December 4 1825) was bishop from 1806 and archbishop of Quebec from 1819 to 1825. It is engraved with the letters E. Q. (for √É¬©v√É¬™que de Qu√É¬©bec or Bishop of Quebec) which leads one to assume that it was created for Joseph Octave Plessis between 1806 and 1819.
Laurent Amiot was born August 10 1764 at Quebec. His brother Jean-Nicolas Amiot introduced him to the silversmith√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs art. At the end of the 18th century French imports of religious objects were rarer. As a prot√É¬©g√É¬© of the S√É¬©minaire de Qu√É¬©bec he studied in Paris from 1782 to 1787 thereby following in the footsteps of Fran√É¬ßois Baillairg√É¬©. These artisans participated in the post-war reconstruction efforts and represented the desire to remain French in a country under British allegiance. Despite these efforts and his French training Laurent Amiot like many of his contemporaries did not escape British influence.
When he returned to Quebec he was the main rival of Fran√É¬ßois Ranvoyz√É¬© for a number of years. As a master smith he trained at least four apprentices: Jacques-Richard Filteau Claude-Paul Morin Pierre Lesp√É¬©rance Joseph Babineau and possibly Fran√É¬ßois Sasseville. Amiot specialized in creating silver religious objects and many of his works can be found in Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs religious communities and churches. He also created silver utensils teapots milk jugs etc.
His influence on the silversmith√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs art in Quebec due to the knowledge he brought back from France was considerable. Under his impetus religious silver was revitalized with the introduction of an aesthetic quality derived from the Louis XVI style. His silver pieces can be found in many Canadian institutions including the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull the National Gallery of Canada the Winnipeg Art Gallery the Mus√É¬©e national des beaux-arts du Qu√É¬©bec and the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan. To date Artefacts Canada has catalogued 465 objects by Laurent Amiot in its database and this figure excludes those pieces that are still used in churches. He died at Quebec on June 3 1839 and is buried in the Sainte-Anne√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs chapel in the Notre-Dame de Qu√É¬©bec Basilica Cathedral. This shows the important role he played in the Quebec community at this time.