Despite the growth of opportunities for study in Canada, Canadian artists increasingly traveled to Europe for study and inspiration in the late 1800s and early 1900s, although they were more often influenced by older styles than by the latest expressions. In Canada, collections of French landscapes of the Barbizon School and Dutch genre paintings (scenes of everyday life) popularized the taste for naturalistic portrayal and nonheroic, if somewhat sentimental, subject matter.
Three artists who, like Watson and Leduc, painted intimate, introspective scenes in the late 1800s and early 1900s were Horatio Walker and William Brymner in Québec and George Reid in Ontario. Walker, who traveled in France, and Brymner, who had studied in France, painted landscapes and figure paintings influenced by the Barbizon School.
Reid painted domestic scenes, and his wife, Mary Hiester, gained her own reputation for flower paintings. The artists used warm colors and soft, enveloping light to convey their new concern for intimacy while exploring the truths of nature.
Some Canadian painters of the late 1800s and early 1900s remained tied to more conservative European traditions. Robert Harris, for example, painted formal portraits that reflected his academic training in France. Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté became interested in the advanced French art movement impressionism while studying in Paris, but his later works, including winter landscapes, were more traditional. Paul Peel painted sentimental images of children and peasant girls before his early death in Paris at the age of 32.
Impressionism, which was still considered avant-garde in Canada, introduced a new use of color and an emphasis on the lyrical effects of light in landscape and urban images.
The work of Canadian impressionist Maurice Cullen, for example, demonstrates interest in French impressionism in its broken brush strokes, light-filled atmosphere, and seemingly spontaneous creation of forms. James Wilson Morrice, a painter from Montréal, spent much of his life abroad, particularly in Paris, from 1890 until his death in 1937. Morrice showed an exceptional understanding of international art, ranging from postimpressionism to the work of French artist Henri Matisse. Through a restricted range of color and simplified form, he imposed a design on nature, rather than taking the more traditional Canadian way of looking for design in nature. This approach made Morrice the most progressive Canadian artist of his time. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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