At the left of the painting, two women are strolling along the waterfront in Venice. They are next to an awning-covered terrace, beyond which a sailboat and a gondola are visible on the lagoon.

James W. Morrice

(Montréal 1865 – Tunis, Tunisia, 1924)


Venise, vue sur la lagune

[Venice, Looking Out over the Lagoon]

about 1904

Oil on canvas mounted on aluminum

60.6 x 73.9 cm

Gift of James Wilson Morrice Estate, 1925

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1925.334

Photo: MMFA, Brian Merrett 

The sky in James W. Morrice’s Venise, vue sur la lagune [Venice, Looking Out over the Lagoon] shimmers with small strokes of pink and orange pigment. Unlike the etchings of Clarence Gagnon, which, in the same period, portrayed Venice in a picturesque manner, Morrice’s painting focuses on people strolling along the lagoon. The emphasis on the luminous atmosphere that bathes the figures reflects the influence of the Impressionists. Morrice was considered the Canadian standard-bearer of European modernism in his day.

James W. Morrice was the first Canadian invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale, in 1903 and 1905 (Canada was not officially represented until 1952). This shows the esteem in which he was held in Europe, where he spent most of his life. Morrice returned to Canada from time to time, though, to paint winter scenes. The bold style of works like Venice, Looking Out over the Lagoon firmly established his reputation in the history of Canadian art.


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