Saturday, January 15, 2011

A look back to end of the 19th century.

The young gleaner, 1888, Paul Peel.

The Spinner, 1881, Paul Peel.

The young biologist, 1892, Paul Peel.

Lady in the garden, 1889, Paul Peel.

A wreath of flowers, 1884, William Brymner

 Boy with Bread, 1892-99, Ozias Leduc.

The young student, 1894, Ozias Leduc.

My mother in mourning,  c.1890, Ozias Leduc.

Forbidden fruit, 1889, George A. Reid.

Here are just a few paintings from the end of the 19th century. A small selection that includes work by Paul Peel, William Brymner, Ozias Leduc, and  George A. Reid.

I was extremely surprised at how difficult it was to find any resource for realism in Canadian painting from this time period. Surprised and a little disappointed. I understand that when "Canadian art" is mentioned most people think of The Group of Seven. I would love to be able to change that, even if only a little bit. I do have an appreciation for the work of the Group of Seven, one that is growing as I get older, so I don't mean at all to sound dismissive of their contribution to the rich artistic heritage that is in Canada. I am however trying desperately to find more realism.  Something that has that flavour that comes from serious academic study with a long tradition.  This selection is some of what I managed to find. I see now how much more research is going to be needed if I plan on looking back at all. Hope you enjoy these pieces. I've seen some at museums, and as with most paintings, the impact is much stronger when seen in person.

Looking at some work coming out of contemporary painters these days it feels like a reconnection is being made after almost a century. I am thrilled to see this momentum toward realism again and to see a return to sane and logical methods while exploring new ways of looking at the world. It's a very exciting time.


  1. Among this shortlist are some of my favorite Canadian artists. Have they been American or European, they might have garnered more fame, because they are all master painters.

  2. Alvin I agree and absolutely, they are all masters. Hopefully this blog will help bring more attention to historical and contemporary Canadian artists. There is too much talent here and not enough noise being made about it.