BOURGAULT, Jean-Julien (1910-1996)

Born into a family of joiners and carpenters, the master-sculptor Jean-Julien Bourgault lived the majority of his life in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. After studying fine woodworking in Quebec City, near the end of the 1920s, he returned to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, in 1931, to begin an apprenticeship, along with his brother André (1889-1957), in his other brother Médar’s (1897-1967) sculpting workshop (refer to note). During this period, the work of the Bourgault brothers would become increasingly popular and promoted by the ethnologist Marius Barbeau. The three brothers Bourgault opened the École de sculpture de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli in 1940. They gained popularity by creating numerous wooden sculptures inspired by Quebecois folklore. Together, they brought a certain prestige to traditional wood sculpting in Quebec. Jean-Julien was the director of the École de sculpture from 1957 until 1986, the year he took his retirement. Despite his interest in local subjects, he left his mark as a religious sculptor. Jean-Julien Bourgault completed works in many places of worship, including the Saint Ann’s Cathedral, La Pocatière, the Saint-Charles Garnier Church in Sillery and the Saint-Jean-Port-Joli church. He received several honours during his career, including the French National Order of Merit (1964) and the Order of Canada (1970), and he became Grand Officer of the Order of Quebec in 1993. The pinnacle of his career is probably his exhibition with the Quebecois painter Jean-Paul Riopelle in Montmagny in 1991.