National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 22, 1973

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Click figure 13 here for an enlarged image

Click figure 17 here for an enlarged image

Foreign Art at the Canadian National Exhibition 1905-1938

by Sybille Pantazzi

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11

A group of Scottish works shown in 1931 included artists such as the two colourists, S. J. Peploe, and J. D. Ferguson, E. A. Hornel, one of the "Glasgow Boys" (whose Captive Butterfly - purchased in 1906 - was the first picture to be acquired by the Art Museum of Toronto ), Cadell, MacTaggart, Muirhead Bone, and Jessie M. King's Rapunzel, a watercolour.

In 1934 Stanley Spencer and L. S. Lowry were two of the younger artists exhibited. Spencer's Betrayal, shown in 1926, was called "weird," "enigmatic," and "futurist" in the local press. (25) It was also hung at the Pittsburg International that year. Among the old stand-bys were Lavery, Russell Flint, Dame Laura Knight (fig. 9), and Sir Gerald Kelly (fig. 10), the eminently successful portrait-painter who became president of the Royal Academy. However, the picture which received the most publicity in the press that year was an Annunciation (fig. II) by a Welshman, Ewan Walters. This contemporary interpretation of a religious theme was considered "in highly bad taste" by the Right Reverend R. J. Renison and "rotten" by Franz Johnston. (26) The following year, 1935, Matthew Smith, Duncan Grant, and Stanley Spencer were hung beside Turner, Watts, Millais, and Holman Hunt. Finally, the Surrealist Exhibition held at the C. N. E. in 1938 included the following British artists: Edward Burra, S. W. Hayter, Roland Penrose, Paul Nash, and Henry Moore - probably his first appearance in Toronto. (He first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1930.)

French academic art was represented at the C. N. E. from the very outset of our period. In the first decade we find Benjamin Constant, Tony-Robert-Fleury, and George Rochegrosse (respectively, in 1904, 1905, and 1910); Gaston La Touche (favourite of the Pittsburgh Internationals and Venice Biennales) and Henri Caro-Delvaille (1908). In 1910, there were, to mention only the best-known painters, Bouguereau (Bather), Dagnan-Bouveret (a pupil of Gérome, whose Noce chez le photographe was reproduced in thousands of copies), and Jean-Léon Gérome (Execution of Marshal Ney, lent by the Sheffield City Art Galleries). Gérome's Execution of Marshal Ney, whose dramatic and painterly qualities can still move us today, was included in an exhibition devoted to Gérome's works which circulated in three museums in the United States in 1972-1973, where a new vogue for this once supremely popular artist began developing some five years ago.

It was not, however, until 1916 and 1917 when French art from the Panama Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco, 1915) was brought to Toronto, that visitors to the C. N. E. had the opportunity to see a comprehensive survey of official French art and, for the first time, works by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

The French Government had sent two exhibitions to San Francisco in 1915: a retrospective covering the years 1870-1910 (shown in the French Pavilion), and a résumé of recent Salon activity during the years 1910-1915 (shown in the Palace of Fine Arts). Selections from both these exhibitions were shown at the C. N. E. during the two consecutive war years. The C. N. E. catalogue for 1916 contained the following note: "It is gratifying to note that this exhibition contains works by men of all schools. Paintings by the more conservative who still cling to academic principles are shown by the side of the works of the leaders of the newer movements. This is evidence of the tendency shown by France of a real democracy in Art."

To begin with the Salon paintings of the period 1910-1915, the selection at the C. N. E. during those two years included, together with artists already seen there (such as Caro-Delvaille and Gaston La Touche), Carrier-Belleuse, Meissonier, Georges Clairin (known for his famous portrait of Sarah Bernhardt), Jacques-Émile Blanche (represented by portraits of Henry James and Ida Rubinstein, both illustrated in the catalogue), Paul Helleu and Jean-Gabriel Domergue - two other fashionable portrait-painters - Albert Besnard (nine works), and Jean Béraud, whose scenes of Paris during the Belle Époque were recently seen at the latest Marcel Proust exhibition in Paris in 1971. Also hanging were paintings by Bastien-Lepage, whose prestige and influence was considerable, Jules Adolphe Breton, Léon Bonnat, Cabanel (copied by Paul Peel), Carolus-Duran (Sargent's teacher), J. E. Delaunay, Henri Gervex, and Alfred Philippe Roll, who are the heroes of the Salon Imaginaire type of exhibition today. Harpignies, Henner, Théodule Ribot, Roybet, Ziem, and L'Hermitte complete the roll-call of the painters shown in 1917, all of them the subject of renewed interest in recent years. Also included were two illustrators, today chiefly known (and eagerly collected) for their designs of Art Déco fashion plates: Georges Barbier and Georges Lepape.

Two pictures exhibited in 1916, by artists now forgotten, were purchased by the C. N. E. and are in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario: Saint Cecilia in the Catacombs by Jules Cyrille Cavé (fig. 12), a pupil of Bouguereau, whose first Salon picture in 1855 represented the same subject, and The Sword by Alfred-Pierre Agache (fig. 13), who exhibited two paintings at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. A further painting purchased that year was The Gondola by Lucien Simon (fig. 14). Simon, with Cottet, Ménard, and others belonged to a group known as La Bande Noire (from their emphasis on contrasts of black and white) whose style represented an interesting attempt at renewal in the years preceding 1914. At the 1912 Venice Biennale, France was represented by thirty-four paintings by Simon, thirty-one by Ménard, and twenty-five by Gaston La Touche.

But 1916 and 1917 are chiefly memorable in the annals of the C. N. E. owing to the presence in Toronto of works by Monet (the only Impressionist represented before this date, Durand-Ruel having lent his Cliffs at Varengeville to the 1910 exhibition), Renoir, Gauguin (two pictures), Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Odilon Redon, Maurice Denis (fourteen pictures - see fig. 15), Bonnard, Vuillard (two pictures), Matisse, and K. X. Roussel, all in 1916. Also included that year were two works by the Fauve, Albert Marquet (see fig. 16), and two by the Swiss, Félix Vallotton (see fig. 17). In addition. French sculpture was represented by four works by Rodin (three of them portraits), and Bourdelle's Beethoven. In 1917 the exhibition included Manet's Balcony, two Monets, four Renoirs, a Cézanne, a Sisley, Pissarro's Red Roofs, a Boudin, two Puvis de Chavannes, a Fantin-Latour, Maximilien Luce, and Tissot's Young Woman in a Red Jacket. To these can be added the name of Henri Martin, a successful follower of the Impressionists. A decade later, in 1927, Martin's Pergola fleurie en été was purchased by the C. N. E. (fig. 18).

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