The Flight to Egypt
Date of Issue
November 2, 1995
Christmas, Emile Brunet (1893-1977)
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.
Based on a drawing by Jean-Émile Brunet Designed by François Dallaire Based on a photograph by Guy Couture Based on a sculpture by Maurice Lord
Jean-Émile Brunet, "The Flight to Egypt", 1948-1955 Basilica, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec
This year's Christmas stamps issued on November 2, 1995, present two topics rather than just one. The GREET MORE stamp features a decorative arrangement of holly, while the other three stamps depict Émile Brunet's sculptured capitals, found at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, east of Quebec City. One of Quebec's premier tourist attractions, the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica draws more than a million visitors annually - both pilgrims and ordinary tourists alike. Originally built of woods in 1658, the Basilica is located 35 kilometres east of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River. It was in the 1660s that pilgrims first began arriving at the basilica for miraculous healing. The first pilgrims were attracted by stories of miraculous cures and tales of an escape from a shipwreck. Even today, pilgrims come in search for cures for debilitating diseases and afflictions, making the basilica one of the holiest shrines in the country - a veritable "Lourdes of Canada". The church, and later basilica, at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré has been enlarged and has undergone much construction during the past 300 years. The present Basilica was begun in 1926, but wasn't fully completed until the 1970s. This massive neo-Roman structure is in the traditional shape of a Latin cross and is richly decorated with the works of internationally-renowned artists. It also houses relics of previous churches. The Shrine Museum, known as l'Historial, exhibits 17th and 18th century religious paintings and sculpture. Quebec sculptor Émile Brunet was responsible for nearly 120 works of art at the Basilica. It was his most prolific and longest commission (1948-1976). The capitals - the uppermost member of a column - were begun in 1948 and finished in 1955. Their significance lies in the fact that they are the only historiated capitals (decorated with historical, legendary or emblematic designs) in the history of Canadian art. Brunet's images recreate scenes from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the apostles. Due to his traditional academic training as a sculptor, Brunet undertook only the designs, while the actual stone carving was done by others under his supervision. Brunet's designs for the capitals, as well as the Stations of the Cross and some of the statues in the facade, were translated into stone by Maurice Lord. Brunet brought a deep religious faith to his work. In the words of Mme Brunet, "Besides having exceptional skill, he knew how to bring matter to life and imbue it with his soul." In The Flight to Egypt, Mary and baby Jesus must flee from Bethlehem, after Joseph is warned by an angel that all infants there will be slain by King Herod. Montreal designer François Dallaire has shown the capitals of The Annunciation (52¢), The Nativity (45¢) and The Flight to Egypt (90¢) on a background of a starlit sky surrounded by arches printed in regular and metallic colours. He used photographs taken by Quebec photographer Guy Couture, who worked from scaffolding suspended high above the floor of the Basilica.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 4, No. 6, 1995, p. 5-7.
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