Tall trees rise in a winter landscape. The light mottles the snow with bluish and yellowish highlights. Seen from a distance, a man with a whip is urging on a draft animal pulling a load of logs.

Maurice Cullen

(St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 1866 – Chambly, Quebec, 1934)

 

Logging in Winter, Beaupré

1896

Oil on canvas

63.9 x 79.9 cm

Gift of the Art Gallery of Hamilton Women’s Committee, 1956

Art Gallery of Hamilton, 56.56.V

Photo: Mike Lalich


Logging in Winter, Beaupré is considered one of the first Canadian landscapes painted in the Impressionist style. Although a peasant and his load of logs appear among the tall trees, the real subject of the work lies in the play of light on the snow. Far from pure white, the snow is tinged with tones of blue, mauve, yellow and ochre. The tight composition of the landscape and the soaring verticals of the trees that punctuate the canvas are formal elements later used by the Group of Seven artists.


Maurice Cullen was a Canadian landscapist known for introducing the Impressionist style to Canada after returning from Europe in 1895. This new style, which sought to capture the effects of light with short strokes of bright, contrasting colours, found little favour with the Canadian public. Cullen struggled to find patrons, who tended to prefer more traditional Barbizon School-style landscapes, like those by Horatio Walker. However, he enjoyed a fine reputation in Europe, where the French government bought one of his paintings the year before he made Logging in Winter, Beaupré.

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