A number of artworks punctuate the trails and theme gardens at the Montréal Botanical Garden. Imposing, modern, romantic, majestic, historic—these works of art enhance the beauty and unique character of the gardens. Here is a brief history of just some of these works, which you might have seen while strolling through the Garden:
Le Lion de La Feuillée
Le Lion de la Feuillée - Crédit photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal, Michel Tremblay
Impossible to miss, this imposing cast iron statue guards the entrance to the rose garden. It is one of four lions originally made in 1831 for the former La Feuillée bridge in Lyon, France. When the bridge was rebuilt, the four lions were removed, with one of them eventually making its way to Montréal in 1992. The city of Lyon gifted the statue to Montréal to mark its 350th birthday, highlighting the bonds of friendship and exchange between the two cities.
The First Jewels
La jeune femme au collier - Crédit photo : Jardin botanique de Montréal, J.P. Bellemare
A bit further on, at the heart of the rose garden, the visitor’s gaze falls upon “The First Jewels.” This magnificent bronze sculpture is the work of Alice Winant (1928-1989). The statue was given to the City of Montréal shortly after the artist’s death. The copper necklace that the young woman once held in her hands disappeared not long after the work was unveiled, and all efforts to replace it have failed—every new necklace vanishes...
The Lovers’ Bench
“The Lovers’ Bench,” overlooking the Perennial Garden, is a copy of a 1976 work by Léa Vivot, which the people of Toronto deemed too obscene at the time. Following public pressure, the statue headed down the 401 to Montréal. After being purchased by American millionaire Abraham Hirschfeld, the lovers and their bench made their way to New York. Hirschfeld gave the city a bronze copy in 1987. This work—which you can see at the top of this article—depicts three nudes, including one couple in an embrace, illustrating the contrast between love and solitude.
As you continue your visit, you will discover works by Jocelyne Alloucherie, Paul Borduas, Sylvia Daoust, Jean-Noël Poliquin, Armand Vaillancourtand more.
Un Jardin à soi
Un Jardin à soi, oeuvre de Michel Goulet - Crédit photo : Michel Dubreuil
More recently, “Un Jardin à soi,” by Michel Goulet found a spot in the Arboretum, not far from the Leslie Hancock Garden. Composed of a single chair and a small stainless steel enclosure—bearing patterns inspired by the deciduous trees found in the Arboretum—this work is unveiled today. This chair was once part of another Goulet work in Place Roy, Lafontaine Park, called “Les leçons singulières”; it was stolen in 1995 and recovered a few years ago. As the artist wanted to reintroduce it into a public space, he created a new piece, which can now be seen in the Botanical Garden. The Montréal Botanical Garden’s art collection illustrates the harmonious marriage of nature and culture. It won’t leave you indifferent—be charmed and surprised as you walk the Garden’s trails!