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St Romuald de Lévis: A Québec church decorated by Bavarian artists

Interior decoration of the St Romuald church in Lévis - picture courtesy

For many years Quebec and Bavaria have been linked and new research by Dr. Beate Stock extends our knowledge of the connections between these two regions.

The church of St-Romuald-de-Levis is a notable example of the high artistic quality of ecclesiastical decoration that prevailed in 19th-century Quebec. The church was formally recognized as a Historic landmark in 2004 and is awaiting restoration. At the end of the 19th-century a team of artists from Bavaria executed the interior decoration of this church, which is situated on the south bank of the Saint-Lawrence opposite Quebec City.

The decorative scheme was directed by painter Wilhelm Lamprecht (1838-1922), who studied in Munich and personally painted  the murals in the side-aisles depicting scenes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the murals in the choir and the painting for the main altar.

In the church's main vault, Josef Lang (1840-1914), a fellow student of Lamprecht from the Academy in Munich, painted in grisaille, the cycles from the life of Saint Romuald.  He painted also the large mural in its semi-dome. These are the only known works by Lang.

The École de Sculpture in St-Romuald-d'Etchemin crafted the church's three altars from plans provided by Munich sculptor Georg Schneider (1828-1897). The polychrome statues of the saints in the choir were imported from the atelier of Munich sculptor Johann Evangelist Riedmiller (1815-1895).

At the time the work was done (1867-1868), mural decoration on this scale was an audacious undertaking, as the durability of the technique in the harsh Canadian climate was untested. It is due to the determination of Pierre Télesphore Sax (1822-1881), the first vicar of St-Romuald parish and its 1100 parishioners,  that we owe the existence of this extraordinary work. The interior decoration of the Saint-Romuald church is a unique melding of late-Nazarean, Bavarian and local artistic influences. It is one of the few examples that remain today of the art of religious mural painting in Quebec and across North America.

Our thanks go to Mrs Beate Stock