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William O'Brien UnemployedEnlarge image

William O'Brien Unemployed, c. 1935

Louis Muhlstock
Galician, Canadian, 1904 - 2001
charcoal and brown chalk on buff wove paper
68 x 51 cm irregular
Purchased 1974
National Gallery of Canada (no. 17668)

Mr. Muhlstock does not always treat the human face kindly, but his acerbity is never without a certain tenderness, and the faces that are most deeply marked by misery and destitution always have some indescribably sympathetic quality that does not emanate from them but from this compassionate artist . . . And this seems to be the core of the artist's inspiration, this intimate compassion that he brings to the harsh fates captured in these faces. Everywhere we see the mark of something lost that cannot be recovered. This feeling of irrevocability combines with the sensual melancholia of these gazes and tempers it, extends it, conferring a more spiritual, more profoundly human sensibility. Saint-Denys Garneau, "Chronique des beaux-arts: Louis Muhlstock," La Relève, January 1936

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