Born in 1888 in Sainte‑Rose, on the outskirts of Montreal, Marc‑Aurèle Fortin spent his childhood in the shade of majestic elms—a favourite subject of his during the 1920s and ’30s, and one for which he became well known. Saint‑Rose, painted sometime around 1928, is an example of pure watercolour painting, executed in a single sitting and later enhanced with charcoal when dry. It was a favoured technique of Fortin’s, to which he added coloured pencil, pastel, and conté in the late 1930s. This autumnal landscape, populated by a few scattered figures, is plunged into a windswept, twilit chiaroscuro. In the middle distance, between two massive trees, their barren branches lightly a‑sway, a woman folds laundry as her dress flaps in the breeze. In the grass below, barely dampened by the artist’s brush, a few stray tendrils betray a gust of wind and reflect the undulating current of the Mille‑Îles River, which flows through the artist’s native town. The sun spreads its fading light across a dramatic sky tainted by the arrival of sombre clouds that darken, by turns, the trees, houses, and hills, and through which luminous gaps appear. The Sainte‑Rose district—a favourite subject of the artist, which he depicted from every angle—embodies a lost paradise that stands in contrast to the neighbourhood of Hochelaga—another area he painted during the same period—where rural and urban confront one another.