Bisoute is the name given by the artist to his depiction of a hideous, elderly, hunched-over, but friendly vagrant.

The term may surprise. In French, “bisoute” is the conjugation in the present tense in the 1st person or the 3rd person singular of the verb “bisouter.” Spelled “bizouter,” this word can also mean to embrace or kiss.

As for the artist, Jean-Julien Bourgault, he was born in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli in June 1910. The son of Émilie Legros and Magloire Bourgault, a carpenter/joiner, Jean-Julien was the brother of sculptors André and Médard Bourgault.

Having first worked as a sailor (1927-1929), like his brother Médard, sailing between Montreal and Labrador, Jean-Julien then took classes in cabinetmaking in Quebec City. He returned to settle in his hometown in 1931 and married Marie-Antoinette Caron in 1934.

Much like his brothers, Jean-Julien Bourgault was particularly fond of wood to depict his artistic creations with realism and candour. He was also the creator of several religious sculptures.

From 1957 to 1986, Jean-Julien ran, among other things, the École de sculpture, officially established since 1940 with the support of the government in the Bourgault brothers’ studio in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, in the Chaudières-Appalaches administrative region, halfway between L’Islet-sur-Mer and Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies.

Thanks to his talent and reputation, J.-J. Bourgault was honoured with the Order of Merit of France in 1964 and the Order of Canada in 1970.

In 1991, an exhibition entitled Riopelle-Bourgault, bringing together the sculptor and painter Jean-Paul Riopelle, was held at the Théâtre de l’Oie blanche in Montmagny. The event coincided with the annual stopover of these migratory birds (snow geese) in this region of Quebec. 30,000 visitors attended this exhibition.

Jean-Julien Bourgault died on February 7, 1996.

Donation from Louis Pelletier
Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1997 8 S