CHEVALIER D’EON (1728-1810) – THE FIRST KNOWN PAINTING OF A TRANSVESTITE

What better time – Pride Month – to put up a painting of Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont.  We can’t say whether or not he was gay, but the Chevalier d’Eon certainly enjoyed dressing up in women’s clothing.  The Chevalier had quite a career – French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason.  His first 49 years were spent as a man; the last 33 years as a woman. Upon his/her death, a council of physicians discovered that d’Éon’s body was anatomically male.  This 18th century painting was sold in New York to a British gallery as a “woman in a feathered hat”.  Not so.  It turned out to be our chevalier, in the earliest known painting of a transvestite.  The portrait hangs in the British National Portraits Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square in London.

KING EDWARD VII RODE IN FROM INDIA – HIS SCULPTURE IS NOW QUEEN’S PARK’S CENTREPIECE

The statue of King Edward is quite flattering, dressed as he is in full military regalia astride his horse, Kildare, and sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock (the artist who did Queen Victoria’s memorial at Buckingham Palace.The sculpture began a long journey in New Delhi, India’s capital, 12,000 kilometres from TORONTO. It arrived here in 1969, and was an immediate controversy. Did we really want this handover? Harry R. Jackman, a wealthy insurance executive, paid the shipping costs. “I was not after Edward VII”, Jackman confessed. “I was after the horse.”The Art Gallery of Ontario wasn’t interested. Neither was the Royal Ontario Museum. But city council decided on Queen’s Park, and Mayor William Dennison unveiled it. Park visitors now enjoy this focal point, halfway between the University of Toronto and Bay Street. The statue has become a winner, even if it reminds some of us of British imperialism.

BUILDINGS ON QUEEN’S PARK GOV’T CAMPUS ARE BEING RENOVATED – PHOTOS BY ROSS WINTER

With warm weather upon us, and much of the city shut down, what better time than now to do some renovating? The Ontario government is doing precisely that at Queen’s Park. One thing about our federal and provincial governments – they preserve their aging hand-me-downs when it comes to buildings.