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 Read More

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.


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Painting

The Choquette Farm, Belœil, by Ozias Leduc (1864-1955), 1901.

Artist: Ozias Leduc, Photo: Jean-Guy Kérouac
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
1901
oil on canvas
61.2 x 91.6 cm
© SODRAC


This winter landscape is one of three painted for a member of the Choquette family in Belœil, a woman who was a friend of the artist. Although this painting places us in a narrative universe, it is Ozias Leduc’s intimist vision that dominates the composition. The approach is easy to identify through the placement of a secondary subject in the foreground—the log fence and the birds on the snow—which appears to be important to the artist. In short, the representation of this typical Quebec farm, with its buildings and fields, mainly shows the painter’s desire to evoke a feeling of peace and serenity, which he does through an interesting interplay of techniques. Indeed, Leduc chooses to focus his attention on the subtle play of subdued light as well as on the textures of the snow.
This winter landscape is one of three painted for a member of the Choquette family in Belœil, a woman who was a friend of the artist. Although this painting places us in a narrative universe, it is Ozias Leduc’s intimist vision that dominates the composition. The approach is easy to identify through the placement of a secondary subject in the foreground—the log fence and the birds on the snow—which appears to be important to the artist. In short, the representation of this typical Quebec farm, with its buildings and fields, mainly shows the painter’s desire to evoke a feeling of peace and serenity, which he does through an interesting interplay of techniques. Indeed, Leduc chooses to focus his attention on the subtle play of subdued light as well as on the textures of the snow.

© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Painting

Canadian Painter Ozias Leduc (1864-1955) painted this work in 1913.

Ozias Leduc
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest
c. 1913
oil on canvas
50.8 x 34.3 cm
© Estate of Ozias Leduc / SODRAC


Known as a hermit, a mystic and a bohemian, Leduc was inspired throughout his life by the Saint-Hilaire region. In this painting, he depicts a limestone rock face that has yet to yield its secret to a group of geologists who have presumably passed through the area. On the ground lies a coil of rope, a pick, and the smoke from a dying campfire with a hanging ladder above. In a preliminary sketch for this painting, entitled Carrière brune (Brown Quarry), Leduc sets the scene in a Mont-Saint-Hilaire quarry that is still being worked today. Here, the Mountain is shown in the final hours of daylight before disappearing into the night and returning to its state of mystery.
Known as a hermit, a mystic and a bohemian, Leduc was inspired throughout his life by the Saint-Hilaire region. In this painting, he depicts a limestone rock face that has yet to yield its secret to a group of geologists who have presumably passed through the area. On the ground lies a coil of rope, a pick, and the smoke from a dying campfire with a hanging ladder above. In a preliminary sketch for this painting, entitled Carrière brune (Brown Quarry), Leduc sets the scene in a Mont-Saint-Hilaire quarry that is still being worked today. Here, the Mountain is shown in the final hours of daylight before disappearing into the night and returning to its state of mystery.

© The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Painting

June Clouds, by J.E.H. MacDonald (1873-1932), 1914.

James Edward Hervey MacDonald
Edmonton Art Gallery
1914
oil on linen
72.4 x 97.0 cm
© Edmonton Art Gallery


June Clouds is the earliest work by J.E.H. MacDonald to be featured in this exhibition. Completed before the artist joined the Group of Seven in 1920, its thick, exuberant application of paint suggests movement and transition throughout the image. As such, this canvas is closer in spirit and technique to the Impressionistic paintings of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, than to the works of the Group of Seven. At the time he painted June Clouds, MacDonald moved between compositions such as this one that portray recurring movement, and those that featured restful, calm elements.
June Clouds is the earliest work by J.E.H. MacDonald to be featured in this exhibition. Completed before the artist joined the Group of Seven in 1920, its thick, exuberant application of paint suggests movement and transition throughout the image. As such, this canvas is closer in spirit and technique to the Impressionistic paintings of Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, than to the works of the Group of Seven. At the time he painted June Clouds, MacDonald moved between compositions such as this one that portray recurring movement, and those that featured restful, calm elements.

© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Painting

Sackville River, by Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), 1917.

Arthur Lismer
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia - Acquisition, 1925
1917
oil on canvas
77.2 x 92.4 cm
© Estate of Arthur Lismer


In 1916, Arthur Lismer moved from Toronto to Halifax to take the position of principal at the Victoria School of Art and Design. Lismer’s tenure as principal had a great livening effect on the art school and art community in Halifax. Arthur Lismer left Nova Scotia in 1919 to return to Toronto where, the following year, the Group of Seven was born. According to curator Patrick Condon Laurette, Sackville River, may be seen as a homage to Tom Thomson, who died the same year as this work was painted. This mesmerizing painting, with its thick application of colour, presents a close-up view of a river, focussing on the movement of the water rather than a panoramic vista of the landscape.
In 1916, Arthur Lismer moved from Toronto to Halifax to take the position of principal at the Victoria School of Art and Design. Lismer’s tenure as principal had a great livening effect on the art school and art community in Halifax. Arthur Lismer left Nova Scotia in 1919 to return to Toronto where, the following year, the Group of Seven was born. According to curator Patrick Condon Laurette, Sackville River, may be seen as a homage to Tom Thomson, who died the same year as this work was painted. This mesmerizing painting, with its thick application of colour, presents a close-up view of a river, focussing on the movement of the water rather than a panoramic vista of the landscape.

© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Develop an understanding of the geographic influences on culture
  • Understand that art can represent the experience of people
  • Examine how major dominant European art movements influenced the interpretation of the landscape in Canadian painting
  • Be aware of similarities and differences in landscape painting between Russia and Canada prior to 1940
  • Appreciate the development of a distinctly Canadian style of landscape painting
  • Respond critically to a variety of art styles
  • Recognize the emotional impact of art

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