Since the Renaissance, Italy has been a magnet and preferred destination for artists, but in the second half of the nineteenth century, Paris had gained much appeal. The French capital became a meeting place for many foreign artists, who were genuinely fascinated with its dynamism.

At the end of the nineteenth century, interest in travel was not limited to Paris. In their quest for new experiences and new subjects, artists also travelled around the French countryside, and frequently went beyond the borders of France. The picturesque landscape remained a central concern to some painters, while others, discovering new and different lifestyles, cultures, geographies and quality of light, painted new perspectives.

The coasts of Brittany, as well as Venice, Italy and Spain attracted many Canadian artists. Some even ventured as far as North Africa (Tunisia and Morocco), or the Caribbean. Russian artists also moved in the art circles of Paris, and travelled throughout France and Italy, but it was the East that particularly captivated them.

Since the Renaissance, Italy has been a magnet and preferred destination for artists, but in the second half of the nineteenth century, Paris had gained much appeal. The French capital became a meeting place for many foreign artists, who were genuinely fascinated with its dynamism.

At the end of the nineteenth century, interest in travel was not limited to Paris. In their quest for new experiences and new subjects, artists also travelled around the French countryside, and frequently went beyond the borders of France. The picturesque landscape remained a central concern to some painters, while others, discovering new and different lifestyles, cultures, geographies and quality of light, painted new perspectives.

The coasts of Brittany, as well as Venice, Italy and Spain attracted many Canadian artists. Some even ventured as far as North Africa (Tunisia and Morocco), or the Caribbean. Russian artists also moved in the art circles of Paris, and travelled throughout France and Italy, but it was the East that particularly captivated them.


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin

This canvas was painted by Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin in 1869 - 1870.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin
1869 - 1870
oil on canvas
27.3 x 36.7 cm
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.


Vereshchagin is the greatest painter of Russian battles. Between 1867 and 1869, he twice visited Central Asia accompanying the Russian army. While there, he witnessed the war in Turkestan. The artist was impressed not only by the war itself, but also by Eastern culture, with which he was unfamiliar. This canvas depicts Registan, the central square in Samarkand, where the Medrese Shir-Dor religious school is located. Above the entrance to the temple can be seen partly obliterated representations of heraldic lions. The blinding sun, the striking ornamentation and the multicoloured clothing of the passers-by draw the attention of the painter and the viewer away from the theme of barbarity. The artist himself is aware of the contradiction. As he wrote: “All my life, I have loved the sun... This war that haunts me still makes me paint it, and if I want to depict the sun, I need to steal time away from myself...”

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin

Vereshchagin is the greatest painter of Russian battles. Between 1867 and 1869, he twice visited Central Asia accompanying the Russian army. While there, he witnessed the war in Turkestan. The artist was impressed not only by the war itself, but also by Eastern culture, with which he was unfamiliar. This canvas depicts Registan, the central square in Samarkand, where the Medrese Shir-Dor religious school is located. Above the entrance to the temple can be seen partly obliterated representations of heraldic lions. The blinding sun, the striking ornamentation and the multicoloured clothing of the passers-by draw the attention of the painter and the viewer away from the theme of barbarity. The artist himself is aware of the contradiction. As he wrote: “All my life, I have loved the sun... This war that haunts me still makes me paint it, and if I want to depict the sun, I need to steal time away from myself...”

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Fyodor Aleksandrovich Vasiliev

The Volga Lagoons, by Fyodor Aleksandrovich Vasiliev, 1870.

Fyodor Aleksandrovich Vasiliev
1870
oil on canvas
70 x 127 cm
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.


In the summer of 1870, Vasiliev, accompanied by the artists Repin and Makarov, travelled along the Volga. The picturesque Volga landscapes he saw on this trip were his inspiration for this painting. That Vasiliev did not attempt an accurate or austere representation sets him apart from his elders, the painters Shishkin and Savrasov. The expressiveness of the bright colours and the density of the brush strokes give an overall impression of blurred contours. The somewhat incomplete appearance of the work calls attention to the painter’s romantic vision. This vision is also expressed in the contrasting lighting of the earth and sky, the chaotic movement of the heavy clouds, the unexpected appearance of a rainbow over a hill and the waving multicoloured grass. The very simple appearance of the lagoons of the Volga is imbued with anxiety and worry in the face of the powerful and majestic forces of nature.

Fyodor Aleksandrovich Vasiliev

In the summer of 1870, Vasiliev, accompanied by the artists Repin and Makarov, travelled along the Volga. The picturesque Volga landscapes he saw on this trip were his inspiration for this painting. That Vasiliev did not attempt an accurate or austere representation sets him apart from his elders, the painters Shishkin and Savrasov. The expressiveness of the bright colours and the density of the brush strokes give an overall impression of blurred contours. The somewhat incomplete appearance of the work calls attention to the painter’s romantic vision. This vision is also expressed in the contrasting lighting of the earth and sky, the chaotic movement of the heavy clouds, the unexpected appearance of a rainbow over a hill and the waving multicoloured grass. The very simple appearance of the lagoons of the Volga is imbued with anxiety and worry in the face of the powerful and majestic forces of nature.

Fyodor Aleksandrovich Vasiliev


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin

The Beggar-Woman, by Ilya Yefimovich Repin, 1874.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin
1874
oil on canvas
73 x 50 cm
© Irkutsk Regional Art Museum named after V. P. Sukachev.


The young Repin completed the study Beggar-Woman during a trip to France to the small town of Veules-les-Roses. This painting combines for the first time all the features typical of the future master: the love of humanity, the ability to penetrate into the inner world of his hero, his talent as a draughtsman and painter, which he was able to discover for himself, and the art of plein air painting. In this faithful study of nature, everything is just right. “The girl stands in the field and in the background is the wheat field, dotted with poppies, blueberries and dense featureless grass. The small silhouette stands in the direct rays of the sun, and the shapes are drawn very naturally with a variety of colours, depending on whether it is in the shade of the light. The landscape is rather conventional, and barely draws our attention. And yet, it is inseparable from the world of the girl who is experiencing this hot summer’s day...” (O. Liaskovskaya). The painter, when in a nostalgic mood, wrote to those who had remained in his homeland: “We only live by nature now; it is so simple here, so enchanting ... it is very similar to what we fin Read More

The young Repin completed the study Beggar-Woman during a trip to France to the small town of Veules-les-Roses. This painting combines for the first time all the features typical of the future master: the love of humanity, the ability to penetrate into the inner world of his hero, his talent as a draughtsman and painter, which he was able to discover for himself, and the art of plein air painting. In this faithful study of nature, everything is just right. “The girl stands in the field and in the background is the wheat field, dotted with poppies, blueberries and dense featureless grass. The small silhouette stands in the direct rays of the sun, and the shapes are drawn very naturally with a variety of colours, depending on whether it is in the shade of the light. The landscape is rather conventional, and barely draws our attention. And yet, it is inseparable from the world of the girl who is experiencing this hot summer’s day...” (O. Liaskovskaya). The painter, when in a nostalgic mood, wrote to those who had remained in his homeland: “We only live by nature now; it is so simple here, so enchanting ... it is very similar to what we find at home, in Russia’s equivalent to the South of France.”

Ilya Yefimovich Repin


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin

The Taj Mahal Mausoleum in Agra, by Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin, 1874-1876.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin
1874 - 1876
oil on canvas
38.7 x 54.0 cm
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.


This study was painted on the artist’s first trip to India. Vereshchagin paid a great deal of attention to everyday life in the countries he visited. His style is typified by extreme accuracy and great faithfulness to reality. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by the Sultan Shah Djahan for his wife Mumtaz-i Mahal in the seventeenth century. Vereshchagin considered it one of the “most magnificent edifices in the world,” and he painted it several times in different light conditions. He used uncomplicated and bright colours to spectacular effect, so that the whiteness and transparency of the marble would contrast with the “inflamed southern sky” of the background, as the Russian poets described it.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin

This study was painted on the artist’s first trip to India. Vereshchagin paid a great deal of attention to everyday life in the countries he visited. His style is typified by extreme accuracy and great faithfulness to reality. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by the Sultan Shah Djahan for his wife Mumtaz-i Mahal in the seventeenth century. Vereshchagin considered it one of the “most magnificent edifices in the world,” and he painted it several times in different light conditions. He used uncomplicated and bright colours to spectacular effect, so that the whiteness and transparency of the marble would contrast with the “inflamed southern sky” of the background, as the Russian poets described it.

Vasily Vasiliyevich Vereshchagin


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

George Harvey

Welsh Courtyard, by George Harvey, 1875.

George Harvey
Photo: Gary Castle, Purchase, 1933
1875
oil on canvas
34.6 x 61 cm
© Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


George Harvey’s arrival from England in Halifax in 1881 coincided with the Royal Canadian Academy exhibition held in the city that same year. Harvey submitted seven works to this exhibition, including Welsh Courtyard. Known as a landscape painter, George Harvey was a respected artist who painted in the English academic tradition. In 1887, Harvey was offered the position of first Headmaster at the new Victoria School of Art and Design, a post he held until 1893. Harvey’s influence was felt in Halifax particularly through his commitment to teaching and through his many students who would later become leading figures in the local art community, among them, Lewis Smith.

George Harvey

George Harvey’s arrival from England in Halifax in 1881 coincided with the Royal Canadian Academy exhibition held in the city that same year. Harvey submitted seven works to this exhibition, including Welsh Courtyard. Known as a landscape painter, George Harvey was a respected artist who painted in the English academic tradition. In 1887, Harvey was offered the position of first Headmaster at the new Victoria School of Art and Design, a post he held until 1893. Harvey’s influence was felt in Halifax particularly through his commitment to teaching and through his many students who would later become leading figures in the local art community, among them, Lewis Smith.

George Harvey


© 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 Russian and Canadian painting
  • Be aware of similarities and differences in landscape painting between Russia and Canada prior to 1940
  • Appreciate the development of a distinctly Russian and Canadian styles of landscape painting
  • Respond critically to a variety of art styles
  • Recognize the emotional impact of art

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