Posts Tagged ‘Christine Pflug’


Last week, we headed up to the National Gallery in Ottawa to view the Canada 150 exhibition. The building itself is always a highlight of any visit to the Gallery. The exhibit was surprisingly low-key, with minimal interpretation offered to visitors. On view were a combination of historic paintings, a bit of sculpture, and a selection of indigenous relics and art work. Many of the paintings were well-known old favorites and I thought I’d offer a sampling here.


This dramatic night scene is Cholera Plague, Quebec, by Joseph Legare, 1832.


In sharp contrast is this serene sunset, The Port of Halifax, 1835. It is attributed to John Poad Drake, but is likely by another unknown hand.


The charming Croscup Room has been recreated to allow visitors to walk into the space as it originally appeared in the Karsdale, Nova Scotia home of the Croscup family. It was painted around 1845, probably by a British sailor, and must have been a marvel in its day. Scenes include a boat launching, celebrating the industry and growing economy of the region…


and this view of London.


Cornelius Krieghoff, who specialized in scenes of habitant life, must be one of the best-known 19th-century Canadian painters. His scenes are still appealing. This is White Horse Inn by Moonlight, 1851.


Robert Duncanson was an African-American landscape painter of the Hudson School who moved north during the American Civil War. This is Owl’s Head Mountain, 1864.


I looked up Owl’s Head Mountain later and found this photograph of the mountain as it appears now, festooned with ski runs.


Niagara Falls has long been a favorite subject. This painting by Robert R Whale (attributed) was likely completed as part of a project for the Canada Southern Railway.


I smiled at this 1895 self-portrait by Frederic M. Bell-Smith, in which he portrays himself painting a rather grumpy-looking Queen Victoria.


Artist Laura Muntz Lyall is best known for her painting titled Interesting Story, featuring two children reading together. However, this portrait, titled A Daffodil, 1910, is typical of the many sweet portraits she painted of children and women in a loose, impressionistic style.


I liked this early Lawren Harris work titled The Drive. It captures the broad timbered landscape that men once thought was inexhaustible, and some of the men who stripped much of the forest from the eastern continent.


Alfred Laliberte was a talented Québécois sculptor who completed this bronze, Young Indians Hunting, while living in Paris, about 1905. Such works are criticized as presenting a clichéd representation of indigenous peoples to a European audience. However, the intensity and sheer joy of these two boys is impossible to dismiss.


It was a pleasure to see J.E.H. MacDonald’s The Tangled Garden. Although a popular image now, the painting was controversial in 1916. It always reminds me of my own fall garden.


Tom Thomson’s Northern River, painted in 1914-15, is among the most iconic of Group of Seven paintings.


Canadians might be excused for thinking that only the men of the Group of Seven produced creative, adventurous paintings in the early years of the 20th century, but it wasn’t so. This marvellous, sparkling, movemented snow scene was painted by Mary Wrinch in 1918. It is titled Snow Magic.


I liked this lively portrait of Amy, painted by Dorothy Stevens in 1930. Stevens was an active Toronto artist who, among other accomplishments, became president of the Toronto-based Women’s Art Association.


Women artists were also making a place for themselves in Montreal. This powerful portrait of Rollande was painted by Prudence Heward in 1929. Heward was a member of the Beaver Hall Group, which, unlike the Group of Seven, included both men and women.


Yvonne M. Housser painted the town of Cobalt in 1931. The town grew up without planning along erratically curving streets after silver was discovered in the area in 1903 and miners and fortune hunters flooded into the area. By the 1930s, silver mining activity was in decline.


More than 35 years later, Christine Pflug painted the view outside her Birch Avenue, Toronto, apartment: Cottingham School in Winter 1968. The square angles make an interesting contrast to the higgledy-piggledy layout of Cobalt.



By the 1950s, Canadian artists were experimenting with abstraction. This is Jean Paul Riopelle’s 1954 monumental triptych, Pavane.


Painted a year earlier than Christine Pflug’s cityscape, Claude Tousignant’s Chromatic Accelerator of 1967 offers a strong optical experience as the colours spin together the longer you stare.

Aboriginal Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau adapted abstraction to create powerful interpretations of native culture and myth. Untitled (Shaman) was painted in 1971.

In the 21st century, it seems that anything goes. The process by which art finds its way into galleries is mysterious, but curatorial taste seems to favour the grotesque and the too-clever-for-words.


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