The National Gallery of Canada is pleased to announce a new exhibition, presented in collaboration with the Kunsthalle München (Munich, Germany), Fondation de l’Hermitage (Lausanne, Switzerland) and Musée Fabre (Montpellier, France), opening in Munich this July. The first of its kind, Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons will introduce major Canadian artists who advanced the cause of Impressionism in Canada at the turn of the twentieth century to broader audiences.
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and curated by Katerina Atanassova, Senior Curator, Canadian Art, this unprecedented exhibition reveals as much about Canada as it does about the creative minds of the Canadian Impressionists who, for most of them, remained unknown beyond the boundaries of their homeland. “This is a missing chapter in the history of World Impressionism that needed to be explored and explained to audiences abroad and at home,” said Atanassova. “Although recognized individually for their achievements on the Canadian art scene, the contributions of the Canadian Impressionists as a whole remain not adequately contextualized. This exhibition aims to fill those gaps.”
While residing in France during their studies and travels across Europe, and taking their lead from the French Impressionists - including Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and others - the Canadians forged their own approach to painting scenes that sought to capture the fleeting moment. Upon their return to Canada, the artists developed new and varied forms of Impressionism inspired by the incomparable light and landscapes of the North.
The works in this exhibition are grouped into seven thematic sections that trace the Canadian artists from their early emulation of the Barbizon School of Painting to their reception of Impressionism. These include On the Road to Impressionism: Canadian Artists Abroad; Impressions of France: Canadians in the Countryside; Canadian Artists at the Water’s Edge; Youth and Sunlight: Reflections of Childhood; Quiet Pursuits: Women at Leisure; A Journey Home: Canadian Impressionists Return; and Painting Canada: From Impressionism to Modernism.
The exhibition will also feature seminal works by leading female artists – including Mary Bell Eastlake, Emily Carr, Prudence Heward and Sophie Pemberton, to name but a few – as well as a section dedicated entirely to depictions of women at leisure. “This was a popular theme for many Canadian artists who applied Impressionist strategies to reveal the timelessness and universality of the female subject, while also exploring the qualities of light and atmosphere in their immediate surroundings,” says Atanassova. “Whether pictured in domestic interiors, as in Helen McNicoll’s The Chintz Sofa, or passing time in outdoor settings, as in H. Mabel May’s Knitting, their representations offered a diverse interpretation of a life experienced in harmony with nature.”
Covering nearly five decades, Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons features approximately 120 paintings by some 35 Canadian artists, drawn from both renowned public and private collections in Canada and abroad. “We are deeply indebted to the numerous collectors and institutions from across the country who have agreed to part with some of their most beloved works,” said Anne Eschapasse, Interim Co-Director & CEO and Deputy Director of Exhibitions & Outreach. “This project is truly a remarkable collective effort to introduce Canadian art to new audiences in Europe and is the first exhibition of this caliber on Canadian art ever presented in Germany, Switzerland, or France.”
Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons (Le Canada et l’impressionnisme. Nouveaux horizons / In einem neuen Licht: Kanada und der Impressionismus), will be presented in three European venues: Kunsthalle München in Munich, Germany, from 19 July – 17 November 2019; Fondation de l’Hermitage in Lausanne, Switzerland, from 24 January – 24 May 2020; and Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France from 13 June – 27 September 2020. Beginning in fall 2020, the exhibition will be shown at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, enhanced by the addition of archival and photographic materials, works on paper, and sculptures.
“Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons has been fully funded by a dedicated community of Canadian philanthropists whose knowledge and passion for Canadian art and scholarship is an inspiration” says Karen Colby-Stothart, CEO of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. The exhibition is presented with the exceptional generosity of lead supporter The A.K. Prakash Foundation. The international tour to Germany, Switzerland, and France was made possible by the National Gallery of Canada Foundation through its donors, including the Lassonde Family Foundation, the Donald Sobey Family Foundation, and the Distinguished Patrons of the National Gallery of Canada, a pan-Canadian family of visionary philanthropists dedicated to supporting high impact projects and innovative partnerships.
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation also acknowledges Heffel Fine Art Auction House, Masters Gallery, Kanta Marwah, and Michael and Renae Tims, as well as many individual donors who have contributed passionately and enthusiastically to advancing the study of Canadian historical art in Canada and abroad.
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The public opening at the first exhibition venue, Kunsthalle München in Munich, Germany is on Friday, 19 July 2019.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada’s premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st centuries, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery of Canada in fulfilling its mandate. By fostering strong philanthropic partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada's visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy empowers the Gallery to preserve and interpret Canada's visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments. To learn more about the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, please visit https://www.gallery.ca/membership-giving/ngc-foundation
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