James W. Morrice
(Montréal 1865 – Tunis, Tunisia, 1924)
Venise, vue sur la lagune
[Venice, Looking Out over the Lagoon]
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.