BlogNovember 3, 2018

"Cullen opened our eyes to things no one ever thought of painting"

Before the Group of Seven there was Cullen...
-Regina Haggo, The Hamilton Spectator, 2014

A selection of quotations - plucked from an array of sources to include comments from contemporaries and students of Maurice Cullen, art critics, and established scholars - are examples of the consistent praise that Cullen receives for his tenacity of colour, inimitable style of painting, and for his integral role in the development of Canadian Impressionism.

 

wilight in the Laurentians above the fireplace at Galerie Alan Klinkhoff in Montreal, steadfastly protected by Winston.

Twilight in the Laurentians above the fireplace at Galerie Alan Klinkhoff in Montreal, steadfastly protected by Winston.

"In retrospect, it is clear that Cullen deserves greater recognition. [...] In the first years of the century Cullen had set many important precedents and fought the same battle that the Group were to fight in years to come. By the example of his life, his works and his teaching, he enabled Canadian artists to see and to paint the landscape in a new way. He was a man who loved nature, simplicity, and the freedom to paint."
-Peter Mellen, Ph.D, (Courtauld Institute, London,1966), 1970

 

Maurice Cullen, Early Spring on Cache River, c. 1925

 Early Spring on the Cache River, c. 1925
Pastel, 17.5 x 23.5 in.

"The waveless, winding stream, the heavy peace of silence and solitude [...] To Cullen this might well be a sacred stream," recounted William Watson in 1931 of his trip to the Caché with Cullen.

Available for a price of $25,000
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“While the medium of oils has been for the majority of Cullen’s pictures, he confesses his pleasure for the flexibility of pastels. [...] Often handled with extreme strength of outline, these pastels are subtle enough to suggest some profound mystery, just hinted at, or half-revealed.”
—William Watson, O.B.E., Canadian Art Dealer, 1931

“Some suggested an abstraction such as silence, others a feeling of loneliness, for Cullen seldom put a figure in his landscapes, leaving everything to nature and to the viewer. There was always beauty, and that wonderful transmutation, the definition of true art, that had so impressed me in my youth.”
—William Watson, O.B.E., Canadian Art Dealer

Twilight in the Laurentians

Twilight in the Laurentians

Pastel, 23.5 x 31.75 in. 

"There is no doubt that in his paintings of the Laurentians, Cullen has achieved his greatest power. [...] It is said that Turner discovered sunsets to Englishmen, but Cullen has certainly discovered the Laurentians for us."
—William Watson, O.B.E., Canadian Art Dealer, 1931
Available for a price of $28,000

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When Lismer ... arrived in Canada from England in 1911, he saw Cullen’s paintings at an exhibition and was at once stuck by their ‘quality and valid interpretation’ of the Canadian landscape and the way in which the artist had ‘combined in them the Impressionist mode with a Canadian spirit [...] The artist’s [Cullen] significance in Canada can hardly be overestimated ...” 

—Joan Murray, 1973

Looking Over Ile d'Orléans, Quebec, 1896
Looking over Ile d'Orléans, 1896

Oil on canvas, 13 x 16 in.

There is a sister composition of a larger format in the Art Gallery of Ontario, which depicts the same vista but painted in winter, called On the St. Lawrence, 1897. The present oil was executed the same year as Logging in Winter, Beaupre in the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Available for a price of $25,000

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"Healthy, lusty colour which you see in Canada is no doubt considered vulgar - Cullen, I see by the papers, has painted a good picture - he is the man in Canada who gets at the ‘guts of things.’” 
—J.W. Morrice, 1910

Chicoutimi Falls, c. 1920 
Chicoutimi Falls, c. 1920
Oil on panel, 12 x 16 in.

This work was sold by Watson Art Gallery, Montreal, Inventory No. 12973, inventoried in the Estate of Maurice Cullen by Watson Art Gallery in 1935 and sold in 1947. 
Available for a price of $20,000
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It would not be too much to claim that the whole of Canadian landscape painting was changed by the return of Maurice Cullen to his native land in 1895. [...] Where does Cullen stand in the history of Canadian art [...]? It is already apparent that the brought to Canadian landscape a completely new vision. He was the first to interpret our landscape in a manner both personal and appropriate to the country. Though inspired by the impressionists, he nevertheless adapted their approach to suit another climate and another hemisphere.” 
—Robert Pilot, 1956

 

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