Saturday, March 29, 2014

A thought on modern heraldry

This week there was an article in the National Post about how Canada's heraldic authority was producing some of the best and most imaginative modern heraldry around. The focus was on the supporters, the animals (usually) who support the shield with the arms proper on them.

It was all positive in the article but I could not help but think that different message might be appropriate, too. The article might say that Canada's top heraldic artists are so good that they can take any bizarre thought you have for a supporter and make it look not only decent but really excellent.

And if the heraldic artists said that about themselves I would be the first to agree with them. This is amazing work.

My taste in heraldry is focused on the shields, however. I'm interested in early heraldry and things like supporters have always seemed to me to be later clutter. But even there, Canada's heralds shine. Just look at the coat of arms above, the one for the Québec City ballet company. I gasped when I saw it first. Brilliant and pure.

1 comment:

  1. The heraldic tradition in Canada owes a great deal to one particular person, Alan Beddoe, a war artist who fought at Ypres in the First World War. He designed many of the country's best arms (including the national one), for provinces and territories, cities, institutions and individuals. My favourites are the two territorial ones --- Yukon and the North West Territories --- because they follow both the rules of heraldry and the aesthetic principles of northern native art with equal fidelity. The design above looks a lot like his work, but he died in the seventies, and Bélanger's school dates from more recently. Perhaps it's the work of a protegé.