Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
vision and memory, space and place, as are the paintings of several
Quebec painters often linked to French Impressionism.
Impressionism in Quebec Painting
Among the many Quebec painters who have come to be labelled to one
degree or another 'Impressionists,' the best known are Marc-Aurèle de
Foy Suzor-Coté, Maurice Cullen, James Wilson Morrice, and Clarence
Gagnon. 8 All of these painters, who studied in France around the turn
of the century, can be said to combine nature and culture or, rather, to
see nature through the lens of culture, defined as art itself. As Laurier
Lacroix concludes of the painters of the first quarter of the twentieth
century, 'following the example of the painters of the Barbizon school
and the Impressionists, landscape artists viewed atmospheric, climatic,
seasonal and meteorological phenomena as opportunities for a fresh
look at the world. They enriched the perceptions of the transitions of
the sun and its relationships with clouds by varying the play of light
and colour on the forms of nature' ( Suzor-Coté: Light , 108). 9 His list of
their artistic properties and central themes could well be a description
of Marie-Victorin's writings.
That Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté was preoccupied by questions
of personal identity is hardly disputable: he modified his given name
(Côté) to remove the circumflex and included his mother's maiden
name (Suzor) and his maternal grandmother's maiden name (Defoy) in
order to emphasize his French heritage. That he was interested in issues
of national identity is also readily evident from his historical paintings
of Cartier, Champlain, and Cadieux (chapter two).
Following his foray into historical subjects, around 1909 Suzor-Coté
turns more towards landscape art, but with the same quest for pursu-
ing and defining the national identity, through North-American nature
(Lacroix, 163). There are, of course, few things more Canadian than
winter (chapter ten), and also the winter snow gave ample opportunity
for further exploration of light and expansion of technique.
A major compositional feature in Suzor-Coté's winterscapes is that of
a river cutting a diagonal swath through the canvas, 10 since the water
enabled him not only to suggest the passage of time but also to experi-
ment with the passage between states of matter. Much as Marie-Victorin
explored the changes in atmosphere, light, and colour brought on by
the passing seasons, and particularly the intermediate states of matter
induced by the April thaw, Suzor-Coté also returned to the same motif
at different moments, here with the Nicolet River in Après-midi d'avril ,
Search WWH ::

Custom Search