ArtworksMaurice CullenTwilight, Montreal Harbour, 1914 (circa)1866-1934Sold
Inscriptionssigned and inscribed, 'A mon ami Laberge / CULLEN' (recto, lower right)
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal.
Private Collection, Toronto.
Alan Klinkhoff Gallery Maurice Cullen Inventory No.
— This jewel-like painting of twilight over the port of Montreal serves as brilliant testimony to Maurice Cullen's personal interpretation of French Impressionism. Cullen had spent the better part of the years 1888 through to the early summer of 1895 studying art in France and returned for a few years from 1900. The generous impasto, a symphony of brushwork and a Montreal urban port scene of contemporary significance result in a Cullen of special artistic and historical importance.
Compositionally and with his painterly treatment of the twilight sky, only implies ships and city buildings beyond the sheds and grain elevator, with the one tower identifiable as that of the Royal Insurance Building where the Customs House would have been located at the time of this painting. Today this is the site of Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. Safely said, Twilight, Montreal Harbour was executed sometime around 1914, a generation during which Cullen painted among his finest urban paintings.
Even a cursory study of Montreal, the port, shows the enormity of the economic contribution of these grain silos, the first one operational from 1906. The new silos gave the port the ability to store grain trained from western Canada during the winter months awaiting shipment overseas when the shipping season reopened in the spring. Confirmation that Maurice Cullen was aware of the developments, in 1912 he contributed a painting to the Art Association of Montreal Spring exhibition under the title New Grain Elevator.
The dedication “a mon ami Laberge” (“to my friend Laberge”) is a reference to Albert Laberge who was a writer for Montreal’s La Presse newspaper. From 1907, Laberge wrote the “Arts et Spectacles” column and covered the Art Association of Montreal exhibitions. Laberge reviews regularly highlighted works by Cullen, Morrice, Suzor-Coté, Albert Robinson, Clarence Gagnon and William Brymner, and he often wrote in admiration of the female participants including Emily Coonan, Prudence Heward, Rita Mount.
One is humbled by the tributes to Maurice Cullen addressed by many of his peers including James Wilson Morrice, Anne Savage, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Albert Robinson, Robert W. Pilot, and Canadian art scholars Joan Murray, Ian Thom and Peter Mellen. Maurice Cullen is consistently praised for his tenacity of colour, inimitable style of painting, and for his integral role in the development of a Canadian Impressionism.
This painting is both an aesthetically and historically significant Cullen, and a rare purchasing opportunity.14of 120