Artwork by Maurice Galbraith Cullen,  Winter, The Caché River
Thumbnail of Artwork by Maurice Galbraith Cullen,  Winter, The Caché River Thumbnail of Artwork by Maurice Galbraith Cullen,  Winter, The Caché River Thumbnail of Artwork by Maurice Galbraith Cullen,  Winter, The Caché River

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Lot #31

Maurice Cullen
Winter, The Caché River

oil on canvas
signed lower left; titled on a gallery label on the reverse; Cullen Inventory No. 1046
18 x 24 ins ( 45.7 x 61 cms )

Estimated: $35,000.00$25,000.00 - $35,000.00

Continental Galleries Inc., Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal
A.K. Prakash, “Impressionism in Canada: A Journey of Rediscovery”, Stuttgart, 2015, pages 319-21
On his return from London in 1919 after the close of the First World War, Maurice Cullen visited the Laurentians, where he was inspired to create landscapes in both oils and pastel. In 1922 Cullen held a solo exhibition at the Arts Club in Montreal, exhibiting twenty-six landscape paintings, most depicting the Laurentians region. By this time, Cullen had built himself a cabin at Lac Tremblant on the Caché River, where he devoted his time to painting scenes of the streams, fir trees and rocks of the Caché, the Diable and the Rivière du Nord. As A.K. Prakash surmises, the fourth period in Cullen’s artistic life was devoted to his time spent in the Caché River area, adding, “in these works he revealed the steel blue of the mid-Canadian winter ice and the jade and amber tones of thawing ice along the streams.”

“Winter, The Caché River” conveys a sense of solitude, with the radiant winter light gleaming on the rushing water. On these isolated shores, with his sketch-box slung over his shoulder, Cullen explored the crisp winter landscapes that are now synonymous with the artist. He devoted hours to observing the subtle light changes, atmospheric effects and the mystery of the moving waters of the Laurentians in all seasons, at every hour of the day. Once Cullen had tramped through the wintry landscape, and was in situ at his chosen painting place, he made several sketches. One can imagine the endurance and stamina this would call for, with freezing fingers and stiffened paints. Later, once back in his warm studio, Cullen would create his canvases, working from the sketches he had painted. “Winter, The Caché River” is one such example within the oeuvre of his Laurentian landscapes, possessing “an atmosphere of dreams and secret places that few other artists have been able to attain.”
Sale Date: September 24th 2020

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

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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. He assisted Hébert in the making of the Apostle figures for the facade of St. James Cathedral. 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. He studied painting under Eli Delauney in 1889 at the Beaux-Arts and in 1892 left the school to paint landscapes at Moret, Every, and Le Pouldu. In 1894 five of his paintings were shown at the Salon. On a trip to Brittany he met the Norwegian painter Fritz Thaulow, they had much in common. Thaulow may have influenced him in choosing winter landscapes.

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. In 1900 Cullen held an exhibition of his French and Canadian paintings at the Fraser Institute but sold none of these works. They offered little competition for the Dutch 19th Century paintings which were then in vogue. His lack of success left him undeterred however, and he continued sketching in Montreal and Levis. His night scenes of shops with their glowing windows reflecting light in the snowy streets, were breaking new ground by their “ordinary everyday subjects” as was noted by Dr. Hubbard in his book.

In 1907 Cullen was elected full member of the Royal Canadian Academy. He was a fine craftsman and was very careful with the media he used. He worked with thick surfaces throughout, or totally thin surfaces, and presently his canvases pose few problems for restorers. He seldom used more than eight colours in oil painting because he was wary of the manufactured colour blends. He made his own pastels from earths and other pigments which he then applied with a minimum of rubbing.

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. One of his stepsons, Robert Pilot, became a distinguished painter and President if the Royal Canadian Academy. Cullen moved toward clearer atmospheres in his paintings and away from the soft and misty atmospheres of the French Impressionists. This development was perhaps epitomized in his canvas “Deep Pool”. He painted on the Island of Orleans with Horatio Walker, Edmond Dyonnet, and William Brymner and painted with F. S. Coburn whim he encouraged in winter landscapes, also James Wilson Morrice and others. He died at Chambly, Quebec, at the age of 68. A large retrospective exhibition of his works was held in 1956 at the National Gallery of Canada.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977