In the mid-nineteenth century, the search for transcendence that marked Romanticism began to be expressed in landscape painting. It was also to be found in Symbolism.

Symbolism, which could be described as the expression of mystical or abstract ideas through forms, rejected both the dogmatism of academic representation and the supposed scientific underpinnings of Impressionism. It appeared in the work of various painters in Russia and Canada. Artists like the Russian Mikhail Vrubel and the Canadian Ozias Leduc, though very different, represent the spiritual dimension of this style. Their works are more a depiction of the soul than simply windows onto nature.

This exploration of spirituality continued in the work of Kandinsky, a member of the Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group, who published Concerning the Spiritual in Art in 1911. This work argued that harmony between colours and forms must be based on one thing only—effective contact with the human soul. Kandinsky read texts on theosophy, a spiritual doctrine that attracted new interest in the first half of the twentieth century. In Canada, landscape painting took on a transcendent quality with some members of the Group of Seven, in particular Lawren Harris. Greatly influenced by theosophy, Harris deepened his interpretation of nature by stylizing his representations of landscapes and reducing their components to elementary forms.


Canadian Heritage Information Network
Association for Documentation and Information Technologies in Museums (ADIT), Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador - The Rooms, Edmonton Art Gallery, Irkutsk Regional Art Museum named after V.P. Sukachev, Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Museum of Nizhny Novgorod State University named after N.I. Lobachevsky, Nizhny Novgorod Centre for Museums Development and Support, Nizhny Novgorod State Museum of Art, Omsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts named after M.A. Vrubel, Samara Art Museum, Smolensk State Museum-Reserve, State Art Museum of Altayskiy Region, State Tretyakov Gallery, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,

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