Artwork by Maurice Galbraith Cullen,  Wintery Marshes, Quebec

Maurice Cullen
Wintery Marshes, Quebec

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1896 lower right; Cullen Inventory Number 1091
18 x 32 ins ( 45.7 x 81.3 cms )

Sold for $28,750.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Manuge Galleries, Halifax
Kaspar Gallery, Toronto
Sotheby's Canada, auction, Toronto, May 29, 2006, lot 52
Private Collection, United States
A.K. Prakash, “Impressionism in Canada: A Journey of Rediscovery,” Stuttgart, 2015, pages 297-331
Following a six year stay in Paris and further travels through the French countryside, in 1895 Maurice Cullen exhibited at the Salon and was the first Canadian to be offered an associate membership to the Societé nationale des beaux-arts. Despite his growing success in France, the artist chose to return to Montreal that same year. Cullen was determined to give Canadians the opportunity to appreciate the impressionist art he admired in Paris, and to portray the Canadian landscape in this preferred style. He began to exhibit his works in 1896, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews. However, few of his works sold, as collectors’ tastes in Canada were still too conservative, preferring the more traditional and “finished” canvases by European painters of the Barbizon and Hague schools.

“Wintery Marshes, Quebec” (1896) dates to this first year when Cullen began showing his work in Canada and adapting his impressionist approach to the Canadian wilderness. The artist “excelled in crisp winter landscapes in the radiant northern light ... He was determined to record the texture and varied colours of his country in impasto lay- ers of paint – and no other impressionist did it better.” Cullen always sketched outdoors, even during the coldest months while standing in snowshoes. “Wintery Marshes, Quebec” captures the crisp air of the province’s frigid winter, and the beauty of the snowy wilderness at dawn. In the spring of 1896, Cullen, along with William Brymner, travelled north along the Saint Lawrence river, sketching the scenic Quebec countryside up to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Cullen would repeat this excursion frequently over the next several years.

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Maurice Galbraith Cullen
(1866 - 1934) RCA

Maurice Cullen was born in St. John's Newfoundland, 1866. His family moved to Montreal in 1870. He studied sculpture at Monument National under Philippe Hebert. The legacy left to him after the death of his mother in 1887 enabled him to travel to Paris and study sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was tremendously impressed by the work of Claude Monet and other Impressionists which swayed him to become a painter. In 1894 five of his paintings were shown at the Salon.

In 1895 he was elected Associate of the Societe nationale des Beaux-Arts, France. That same year he returned to Montreal where he opened a studio, making sketching trips along the St. Lawrence near Quebec City and Beaupre. By 1897 he was exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy and participated in Spring Exhibitions of the Art Association of Montreal. At the time there was very little interest in Canadian snow scenes. His lack of success left him undeterred however, and he continued sketching in Montreal and Levis. In 1907 Cullen was elected full member of the Royal Canadian Academy.By the early teens he was exhibiting regularly with the Canadian Art Club in Toronto and in 1918 Cullen went to France as an official war artist with the rank of captain.