MAURICE GALBRAITH CULLEN, R.C.A.
oil on canvas, laid down on board
29.75 ins x 66.5 ins; 73.7 cms x 167.6 cms
Under the light of the low-horizon moon, Cullen paints a scene of quiet brilliance. As Crystal S. Parsons writes, “Cullen’s Canadian landscapes differed from those of his artistic predecessors. They were not allegorical or historical records but, like the French Impressionists, Cullen strove to paint what he saw in front of him with truth to particular aspects of nature, especially the ephemeral effects of light.”
The subdued palette of this work softly captures the contours and bends of the birches and rocks, the cresting of the distant shoreline. In a subtle play of tone and a cast of delicate blue, the work becomes powdery and iridescent, as if a silk veil were draped across the canvas. The beauty of this work lies in its stillness and its delicate emotionality. Hugues de Jouvancourt summarizes Cullen’s abilities perfectly in stating that, “Through his strong feeling for things, Cullen could perceive the invisible strength of life hidden in woods, streams, mountains and valleys. His great search was to try and express his emotion in relation to nature to the best of his ability, and this he magnificently succeeded in doing.”
Hugues de Jouvancourt, Maurice Cullen, Éditions la Frégate, Montréal, 1978, pages 126-127.
Crystal S. Parsons, Maurice Cullen and His Circle, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2009, page 9.
Private Collection, Winnipeg
On long-term loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, n.d.