If you were asked to name some of the “French Impressionists”, chances are you would.
Those names roll down our lips like dew drops from Monet’s water lilies at Giverny.
What if you were asked to name a few of the many incredibly talented Canadian Impressionist painters?
If that’s a struggle, you have a rich and colorful opportunity to learn more about these artists in a stunning new exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.
Call it a beautiful chance to escape beauty.
Maurice Cullen ‘The Ice Harvest’, c. 1913, oil on canvas, 76.3 × 102.4 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
Maurice Cullen ‘The Ice Harvest’, C. 1913, oil on canvas, 76.3 × 102.4 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
It’s Your First Weekend to Experience: ‘Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons’,
After a prolonged COVID shutdown, and an additional delay due to the “Freedom Convoy” exhibit in downtown Ottawa, the exhibit finally officially opened on March 1.
The wait was worth it.
More than one hundred canvases by 36 Canadian artists have been brought together with the passion and precision of Katerina Atanasova, Senior Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada.
“Prepare for fun, joyous, beautiful sunny images of Canadians abroad and at home,” Atanasova says.
“I think every painting will be a revelation – the number of women, too, introduced in the exhibition,” Atanasova shared during a tour for CTV News in the afternoon.
“The depth and breadth of the exhibition!” Atanasova flows.
“The number of artists coming from coast to coast. We have artists from all over Vancouver to Halifax. Plus, by the time they return home – the festival of winter – the essential Canadian experience.”
Atanasova is referring to the many breathtakingly beautiful snowscapes.
Lauren S. Harris ‘Snow II’, 1915, oil on canvas, 120.3 × 127.3 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © Family of Lauren S. Harris (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
Lauren S. harris ‘Snow II’1915 , oil on canvas, 120.3 × 127.3 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © Family of Lauren S. Harris (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
The paintings of Gagnon, Cullen, Morris and Harris—to name a few—are all so magical you’ll feel the frost on your face.
Canadian artists traveled to Paris for training.
“When Canadian painters arrived in Paris around 1880, the novelty of Impressionism was already beginning to wane,” Atanasova wrote in her book about the exhibition.
“Canadians who moved to Paris in the last decades of the nineteenth century were faced with this wind of change, which came to be known at that time. happy medium– the middle ground between academia and Impressionism from which each artist cultivated an individual and unique approach,” writes Atanasova.
His approach to the entire exhibition is a wonderful escape for visitors on a cold March day.
Helen McNicol’s works can make you feel the sunshine on your back.
There is an area with ‘childhood reflections’.
“It has a section dedicated to ‘Youth and the Sunlight,'” Atanasova explains.
Helen MacNicol ‘Sunny September’, 1913, oil on canvas, 92 × 107.5 cm, collection of Pierre Lassonde (Photo: MNBAQ, Idra Labrie)
Helen McNicol ‘Sunny September’, 1913, oil on canvas, 92 × 107.5 cm, collection of Pierre Lassonde (Photo: MNBAQ, Idra Labrie)
“You’re seeing these remarkable images by many great Canadian artists, including some not-so-familiar names like Henry Rosenberg and Mary Bell (Eastlake).”
You can’t help being attracted to George A. Reed’s painting “In the Cellar Window.”
“This image of a child steals a moment free from the labor of activities, during the day, to read a book,” comments Atanasova.
Our tour for CTV Ottawa’s News in the afternoon offered a sense of space but not the full experience.
While we have displayed many of the paintings, you must visit the gallery in person to see the full collection, as many pieces cannot be shared on TV.
“We show everything in the gallery space but we only have the copyright to some of the images to show on screen,” explains the curator.
Clarence Gagnon ‘The Train, Winter’ c. 1913-14, oil on canvas, 56 x 71 cm, Private Collection (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
Clarence Gagnon ‘The Train, Winter’ C. 1913-14, oil on canvas, 56 x 71 cm, Private Collection (Photo: NGC, Ottawa.)
Another reason to buy tickets, which you need to book in advance. COVID protocols are in place. You must show proof of vaccination.
Atanasova is excited that visitors are back at the gallery and to share the first exhibition of its kind – the untold story of the spread of Impressionism and the role of Canadian Impressionists in the development of modern art in Canada.
The featured works were all created in the late 1880s and 1920s, at home and abroad.
“The major discovery for all will be that the voices of so many Canadian men and women – Canadian Impressionists and the fact that these Canadian artists had something so important to share with the world – and their voices are heard,” Atanasova it is said.
And luckily for us, those voices are meant to be enjoyed visually.
An adapted version of this exhibition has already traveled to Munich, Germany; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Montpellier, France. The review was praised by European audiences unaware of the contributions of Canadian artists to the Impressionist movement.
The exhibition, presented in Ottawa, is organized around seven major themes, following a chronological progression.
Visitors to the gallery will experience, through paintings, artists celebrating everyday life in Paris, or in popular seaside resorts along the coasts.
The two best-known groups of Canada’s modern painters—the Beaver Hall group of Montreal, and the Seven Group from Toronto—are shown alongside the late Impressionists.
The final canvases in the exhibition are two powerful paintings booking a door, one by Edwin Holgate, the other by Prudence Hayward.
“The story of the spread of Impressionism in Canada is no longer a missing chapter in the history of world Impressionism,” says Atanasova.
“Until recently, the contributions of the Canadian Impressionists were barely known in Canada and abroad.”
“Our hope is that upon seeing this, Canadians will come to recognize the achievements of these exceptionally talented painters with a sense of pride and joy,” says Atanasova, who produced a scholarly publication to accompany the exhibition.
“Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons” is at the National Gallery of Canada until July 3.
If you want to wow your friends with some of the Canadian cast names featured on the show—here’s a cheat sheet.
- Mary Bell (1864–1951)
- Florence Carlyle (1864–1923)
- Emily Carr (1871–1945)
- Prudence Hayward (1896–1947)
- H. Mabel May (1877–1971)
- Helen MacNicol (1879–1915)
- Kathleen M. Morris (1893–1986)
- Laura Mantz (1860-1930)
- Sophie Pemberton (1869-1959)
their male counterparts
- Henry Beau (1863–1949)
- Franklin P. Brownell (1857–1946)
- William B. Bruce (1859-1906)
- William H. Clapp (1879–1954)
- Maurice Cullen (1866-1934)
- Clarence Gagnon (1881–1942)
- Lauren S. Harris (1885–1970)
- Ernest Lawson (1873–1939)
- James W. Morris (1865–1924)
- Paul Peel (1860-1892)
- Robert Pilot (1898–1967)
- Arthur Rozare (1879-1922)
- Marc-rel de Foy Suzor-Cte (1869–1937)
His works have been displayed in the exhibition.