JACSON, ANTOINE, soldier and wood-carver; b. some time between 1720 and 1730 in the parish of Sainte-Marguerite in Paris, France, son of Louis Jacson and Madeleine Fleury; d. 6 Dec. 1803 at Quebec, Lower Canada.
At the time of his arrival in the town of Quebec, probably in 1750, Antoine Jacson was serving in the colonial regular troops. As a soldier in Saint-Pierre’s company he gave witness in a murder case on 18 March 1752. On 14 Feb. 1757 he married Marie-Marguerite Chamberland at Quebec; they were to have eight children. He is described on his marriage certificate as “a soldier in the colony” in Charles Deschamps* de Boishébert’s company; the marriage contract signed a few days earlier mentioned that he was “a wood-carver born in Old France.”
Jacson probably lived at Trois-Rivières soon after his marriage, since he had a son, Antoine-Joseph, baptized there on 28 Dec. 1760; the certificate of baptism issued then termed him a “master woodcarver.” In 1770 Jacson did some of the carving for the decoration of the church of Saint-Charles at Lachenaie, executing his first known contract. He lived in that locality for some months and had a child baptized there on 20 Sept. 1771. A month later, having returned to Quebec and settled on Rue du Cap, he signed a one-year contract with master carpenter Jean Baillairgé. Jacson undertook to do all the carving and other pieces of work that Baillairgé requested; in addition he was to teach Baillairgé’s son François* “what he [knew] about wood-carving.” For this he was paid 600 livres. From then on François Baillairgé considered Jacson his father’s associate.
Between 1781 and 1784 Jacson worked on the decoration of the church of Saint-Pierre on Île d’Orléans. There, as at Lachenaie, it is impossible to judge what he accomplished since his work is lost in a jumble of decorative elements done by a number of wood-carvers. Shortly after this contract ended, Jacson went to practise his craft in the workshop newly opened at Quebec by his former pupil, François Baillairgé, who had returned from France in 1781.
In the period 1784–87 Baillairgé, well aware of Jacson’s skill, entrusted to him jobs demanding great precision. In particular he did some of the framework and the door of the tabernacle in the church of Saint-Louis in Kamouraska in October 1784, the carving on the altar ledges in the church at Saint-Henri-de-Lauzon (Saint-Henri), the tabernacle, supporting pedestal, and ornamental consoles in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours at L’Islet in February and March 1785, the bases of the candlesticks for the church at Saint-Joachim in July 1786, the churchwardens’ pew in the church of Notre-Dame-de l’Assomption at Berthier (Berthier-sur-Mer), and the frieze in the stairway of the Château Saint-Louis at Quebec in March 1787. In addition during this period he collaborated with Pierre Émond on the decoration of Bishop Briand*’s chapel. From 1787 to 1793 François Baillairgé’s account-book makes no mention of Jacson. The two men apparently remained on good terms, however, since one of Jacson’s sons did various small jobs for Baillairgé.
On 25 Jan. 1793, François Baillairgé recorded that “Mr Antoine Jacson began to work for me on a trial basis.” Perhaps this note is to be explained by the precarious state of Jacson’s health or by other difficulties. At all events, Baillairgé, who was engaged in the decoration of the church of Notre-Dame at Quebec, needed help at that moment; he entrusted to his old master the carving of the “friezes, rosettes, and framework of the high altar of the retable,” retable being the contemporary term for the decorated structure that housed the altar in the sanctuary. In April, again working for Baillairgé, Jacson did the carving on the framework of the painting above the tabernacle for the parish of Saint-Pierre-du-Sud.
Antoine Jacson’s name appears for the last time in Baillairgé’s account-book on 2 April 1796 and he probably retired at that date. He died at Quebec in 1803, leaving all his belongings to one of his sons, Louis. Jacson’s work, at least as glimpsed through the fragments that have been identified, seems to have been that of a wood-carver who specialized in decorating. He executed candelabras, consoles, friezes, and rosettes, but there is no mention made of statuary.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 7 déc. 1803; CN1-11, 27 janv. 1757; CN1-26, 19 sept., 4 oct. 1800; CN1-83, 12 juin 1783; CN1-248, 16 oct. 1771. AP, Saint-Charles (Lachenaie), Livre de comptes, II: 47; Saint-Pierre (île d’Orléans), Livre de comptes, I. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 4: 570. “Un conseil de guerre à Québec en 1752,” BRH, 45 (1939): 355.
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