DESCHEVERY, dit Maisonbasse, JEAN-BAPTISTE (he often signed Meson Basse), silver-smith and merchant; b. c. 1695, son of Jean Deschevery and Jeanne Damboise who probably came originally from the parish of Notre-Dame in Bayonne, France; m. on 24 Jan. 1718 Louise-Élisabeth Couteron; d. c. 1745 in Quebec.
Little is known about Jean-Baptiste Deschevery’s origins and education. He was probably born in France; the earliest document confirming his presence in Canada is his marriage certificate, dated 1718, in which he is said to be 23 years old. How he acquired his training as a silversmith cannot be ascertained; perhaps he did his apprenticeship in France before coming to Canada.
After his arrival in the colony Deschevery seems to have struck up friendships with the other silversmiths in Canada. Despite the absence in New France of a guild of silversmiths such as existed in the mother country, business and personal relations among the artisans engaged in the silversmith’s trade seem to have been fairly good. Thus the silversmith Jacques Gadois, dit Mauger, signed Deschevery’s wedding certificate in Montreal on 24 Jan. 1718. Similarly, on 2 May 1721, again in Montreal, Deschevery put his signature to the wedding certificate of the master silversmith, François Chambellan, with whom Michel Cotton did his apprenticeship in 1724. Towards 1725 Deschevery left Montreal and went to set up a business in Quebec, where he made friends among the people in his craft. Indeed, on 20 Nov. 1727 in the church of Notre-Dame de Québec, the silversmith Jean-François Landron acted as godfather to Marie-Françoise Deschevery, Jean-Baptiste’s daughter.
Like most artists of his time, Deschevery did not confine himself solely to his art. He had to attend to the marketing of his works, and perhaps even to the sale of imported objects related to his trade, whence the designation “merchant silversmith” which is sometimes found. He was also an appraiser for lotteries and inventories. Appointed an expert by the civil authorities, in 1728 he was commissioned to weigh, with the help of Jacques Pagé, dit Carcy, Claude-Thomas Dupuy*’s silver plate. In 1730 he was asked to appraise, among other things, the articles being raffled off by the silversmith and merchant Jean-François Landron. In 1734, after Jean Crespin’s death, he appraised, for the inventory of goods made on 13 January, “the deceased’s handsome silverware.”
The exact date of Deschevery’s death cannot be determined; it can, however, be placed around the years 1744 and 1745. The 1744 census of Quebec mentions “Jean Baptiste Maison Basse, silversmith,” 49 years of age, living in Rue Sous-le-Fort. In a document dated 6 Oct. 1745 the artist’s wife is indicated as being “Demoiselle Elisabeth Coutron, widow of the Sieur Jean Baptiste Maison Basse in his lifetime the said silversmith.”
This silversmith’s work is not well known. Only a few examples have been found: a goblet, a chalice, and a porringer in solid silver. All these items can be identified by the stamp formed of the letters M.B. on a five-pointed star, the whole crowned by a fleur-de-lis.
AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 6 nov. 1725, 20 nov. 1727. ANQ, Greffe de Nicolas Boisseau, 13 janv. 1734; Greffe de J.-C. Panet, 6 oct. 1745. ANQ-M, Greffe de Michel Lepailleur, 6 déc. 1718, 30 avril 1721; Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 24 janv. 1718, 2 mai 1721. IOA, Dossier Jean-Baptiste Deschevery, dit Maisonbasse, orfèvre. “Les loteries sous le régime français au Canada,” APQ Rapport, 1923–24, 144–47. “Recensement de Québec, 1744” (APQ Rapport). P.-G. Roy, Inv. ord. int., II, 151, 158. Langdon, Canadian silversmiths. Traquair, Old silver of Quebec.