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.

Maurice Galbraith Cullen

Paris, Winter on the Seine, by Maurice Galbraith Cullen, 1902.

Maurice Galbraith Cullen
Presented in memory of George P. and Helen S. Waters, by their son, 1972
1902
oil on canvas
73.4 x 92.5 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


The French Impressionists were interested in capturing modern man and urban life, while Canadian Impressionists like Maurice Cullen were often drawn to the rural, snow-covered landscapes of their homes. In Paris, Winter on the Seine, Cullen manages to convey the dreary coldness of a Paris winter, concentrating on the reflections of the gleaming Palais de Justice and the Pont Neuf. The depiction is a detached one, more concerned with the grandeur and austerity of the architectural urban setting than with capturing the liveliness and bustle of modern Parisian life.

Maurice Galbraith Cullen

The French Impressionists were interested in capturing modern man and urban life, while Canadian Impressionists like Maurice Cullen were often drawn to the rural, snow-covered landscapes of their homes. In Paris, Winter on the Seine, Cullen manages to convey the dreary coldness of a Paris winter, concentrating on the reflections of the gleaming Palais de Justice and the Pont Neuf. The depiction is a detached one, more concerned with the grandeur and austerity of the architectural urban setting than with capturing the liveliness and bustle of modern Parisian life.

Maurice Galbraith Cullen


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

James Wilson Morrice

Figures on a River Embankment, Brittany, by James Wilson Morrice, 1905.

James Wilson Morrice
Gift of the Estate of David R. Morrice, Montréal, Quebec, 1979.
c. 1905
oil sketch on panel
12.2 x 15.3 cm
© Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


James Wilson Morrice painted in a Post-Impressionist manner but favoured a more low-keyed palette. His small panel sketches, such as Figures on a River Embankment, Brittany, are spontaneous in their approach. Morrice reduced compositions to their most essential parts, eliminating any unnecessary detail. Figures often appear as static elements serving the overall composition of the painting.

James Wilson Morrice

James Wilson Morrice painted in a Post-Impressionist manner but favoured a more low-keyed palette. His small panel sketches, such as Figures on a River Embankment, Brittany, are spontaneous in their approach. Morrice reduced compositions to their most essential parts, eliminating any unnecessary detail. Figures often appear as static elements serving the overall composition of the painting.

James Wilson Morrice


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

William Edwin Atkinson

Moonlight over Polder, by William Edwin Atkinson, 1906.

William Edwin Atkinson
Gift of Ian Flann, 1985
1906
watercolour on paper
39 x 52 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


E.F.B. Johnston wrote in 1907, “Mr. W.E. Atkinson is another exponent of nature through the eye of sympathy and peace. There is... a feeling of quiet communion, a very sympathetic touch, and a simplicity and breadth of treatment which always influence the aim and expression of this highly appreciated artist.” Atkinson’s treatment of light and shadow in his subtle, harmonious landscapes is frequently reminiscent of the Dutch masters that influenced his work. In Moonlight over Polder, Atkinson recreates the wet, foggy atmosphere of Holland in shades of blue and grey, with a hazy, dream-like focus.

William Edwin Atkinson

E.F.B. Johnston wrote in 1907, “Mr. W.E. Atkinson is another exponent of nature through the eye of sympathy and peace. There is... a feeling of quiet communion, a very sympathetic touch, and a simplicity and breadth of treatment which always influence the aim and expression of this highly appreciated artist.” Atkinson’s treatment of light and shadow in his subtle, harmonious landscapes is frequently reminiscent of the Dutch masters that influenced his work. In Moonlight over Polder, Atkinson recreates the wet, foggy atmosphere of Holland in shades of blue and grey, with a hazy, dream-like focus.

William Edwin Atkinson


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Helen Galloway McNicoll

Midsummer, by Helen Galloway McNicoll, 1909.

Helen Galloway McNicoll
Acquisition, 1925
c. 1909
oil on canvas
61.8 x 72.2 cm
© Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


Midsummer illustrates Helen Galloway McNicoll’s preoccupation with the effects of sunlight. McNicoll was influenced by the Impressionists and utilized the high-keyed colour and strong brushwork of this movement. After her initial studies under William Brymner in Montréal, McNicoll travelled to Europe where she attended the Slade School of Art in London, and St. Ives in Cornwall. Midsummer was painted while the artist was in Brittany. This painting, like many of McNicoll’s works, includes the figure, depicted here at work in the fields.

Helen Galloway McNicoll

Midsummer illustrates Helen Galloway McNicoll’s preoccupation with the effects of sunlight. McNicoll was influenced by the Impressionists and utilized the high-keyed colour and strong brushwork of this movement. After her initial studies under William Brymner in Montréal, McNicoll travelled to Europe where she attended the Slade School of Art in London, and St. Ives in Cornwall. Midsummer was painted while the artist was in Brittany. This painting, like many of McNicoll’s works, includes the figure, depicted here at work in the fields.

Helen Galloway McNicoll


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

James Wilson Morrice

View of a North African Town, by James Wilson Morrice, 1912-1914.

James Wilson Morrice
Bequest of David R. Morrice, 1978.
1912 - 1914
oil on panel
12.2 x 15 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


James W. Morrice frequently painted little pochades: quick oil sketches painted on small wooden panels. This particular pochade was probably painted on one of his earliest trips to North Africa. He first visited Tangiers in early 1912, where the landscape, towns, people, light and atmosphere inspired him. The next year, he wrote to a friend, “I am going to Tangiers next month for the winter. Bright colour is what I want. It rains here all the time.” Energy and life seethe in this pochade; the figure to the right is suggested with a few gestural brushstrokes, enlivening the composition and conveying an impression of the scene, spared of any and all extraneous detail.

James Wilson Morrice

James W. Morrice frequently painted little pochades: quick oil sketches painted on small wooden panels. This particular pochade was probably painted on one of his earliest trips to North Africa. He first visited Tangiers in early 1912, where the landscape, towns, people, light and atmosphere inspired him. The next year, he wrote to a friend, “I am going to Tangiers next month for the winter. Bright colour is what I want. It rains here all the time.” Energy and life seethe in this pochade; the figure to the right is suggested with a few gestural brushstrokes, enlivening the composition and conveying an impression of the scene, spared of any and all extraneous detail.

James Wilson Morrice


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Ernest Lawson

Castle in Segovia, by Ernest Lawson, 1916.

Ernest Lawson
Purchase, 1946, Photo: Gary Castle
1916
oil on canvas
51.2 x 61 cm
© Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


Ernest Lawson spent his early years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Ontario, before moving with his family to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1893. He received his art training at the Art Students League in New York and at the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1916, Lawson was awarded the silver medal at the Sixth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. He used the winnings from this prize to travel to Spain and it was on this trip that Castle in Segovia, depicting the famous Alcazar Castle, was painted. Ernest Lawson is considered one of the most important American Impressionists, and his influence was also felt in Canada.

Ernest Lawson

Ernest Lawson spent his early years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Ontario, before moving with his family to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1893. He received his art training at the Art Students League in New York and at the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1916, Lawson was awarded the silver medal at the Sixth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. He used the winnings from this prize to travel to Spain and it was on this trip that Castle in Segovia, depicting the famous Alcazar Castle, was painted. Ernest Lawson is considered one of the most important American Impressionists, and his influence was also felt in Canada.

Ernest Lawson


© 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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