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Maurice Cullen

Maurice Cullen was one of the most admired painters in William Brymner’s Canadian Art Club (1907-1915). His style is very in keeping with those of his peers; making use of intense colours and a concern for light, he popularized a more palatable approach to French impressionism in Canada, often called "second-generation Impressionism".

He was born in 1866 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and moved to Montreal at the age of four. After studying impressionist painting in Paris, Cullen returned to Canada in 1895. His works from this period are truly indicative of the beginning of a new style in Canada; Cullen brought impressionism from France to the vast Canadian landscapes, painting luminous images of snow-filled landscapes with a built-up impasto texture. The result of this new treatment of snow was a new form of light: the texture allows for the absorption of light and indeed suggests the presence of atmosphere.

Cullen became very involved with the Canadian Art Club in Montreal and Canadian painters such as the Group of Seven alike. His style developed into an almost purely atmospheric quality, nearly altogether eliminating his established impasto technique from his paintings. His style continued to develop, yet due to amounting critiques of his postimpressionist style in Montreal and Toronto he relaxed his painting to a naturalistic landscape style.

Maurice Cullen, alongside William Brymner, can be accredited with introducing impressionism to the Canadian public in the late nineteenth-century. This style of painting brought together nineteenth-century Dutch and French painting, concentrated in Canadian subject matter. Although this was an innovative approach to painting in Canada, it received much criticism for not having any relationship to Canada. Nonetheless, the introduction of post-impressionism to the Canadian public made way for many other important Canadian artists to flourish and a unique "modern" and "Canadian" style of painting to emerge.

The North River
Pastel on paper
23.5” X 31.5”
Rivière en Hiver
17" X 23"


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