Journal of Canadian Art History / Annales d'histoire de l'art canadien

Archive of past issues

Vol. XXIV (2003)

Articles

L'art canadien commence-t-il avec Krieghoff ?

François-Marc Gagnon

En posant cette question, j'ai bien le sentiment de faire Gérard Morisset se retourner dans sa tombe ! C'était une question qui le faisait sortir hors de ses gonds. Dès les premiers paragraphes de son livre, La peinture traditionnelle au Canada français, I960, il s'attaquait à cette idée que l'art canadien ait pu commencer avec Krieghoff.

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Did Canadian Art Begin With Krieghoff?

Did Canadian art begin with Cornelius Krieghoff? This article addresses the question in light of two opposing views. In the first few paragraphs of the forward to his 1960 book, La peinture traditionnelle au Canada français, Gérard Morisset attacked those (unnamed) art critics who proposed that Krieghoff was the originator of Canadian art. He severely condemned their dismissal of art prior to 1860. Instead he states that there was a much earlier start to the history of Canadian art, beginning with those artists who had responded to the religious or secular aesthetic needs of Quebec's original francophone population. Certainly Morisset believed that Krieghoff could not be considered the first Canadian painter because his work was so derivative of Dutch models.

Canada in Paris

Krieghoff at the Universal Exhibition 1867

Arlene Gehmacher

Surely one of the most significant contributions of Dennis Reid's Krieghoff: Images of Canada — both exhibition and catalogue — was his discussion of Krieghoff's ensemble of paintings of the timber trade with the publication of the seldom-reproduced nineteenth-century photograph of the work. Long conjectured to have been installed in the Legislative Assembly in Quebec City and lost in the fire in 1883, Krieghoff: Images of Canada revealed that the paintings had in fact been displayed at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867 (UEP). At the Art Gallery of Ontario, the originating institution of the Krieghoff retrospective, the photograph of the ensemble was enlarged to the scale of the original object, with the actual central painting Timber Depot, Quebec (today known as Sillery Cove, Quebec) superimposed on its photograph. The painting introduced the "Europe 1864–1870" section, suggesting the role it played in promoting Canada on the international stage; and its placement with other paintings produced during his years abroad established its position within Krieghoff s career. In Reid's catalogue, Timber Depot, Quebec was assessed as "the great painting" of this period.

Cornelius Krieghoff and the Shakspeare Club

Conrad Graham

During the summer of 2000 a previously undocumented painting by Cornelius Krieghoff (1815–1872) was brought to Montreal's McCord Museum of Canadian History for examination. The painting depicts an interior scene with a number of men seated around a table smoking and drinking. Certain artistic license and a conscious attempt at caricature have created a group portrait with great vitality. The painting is signed and dated on the rim of the top hat in the bottom left corner "C. Krieghoff / 47" and it is also signed across the back of the canvas. The work was in a remarkably good condition and the only major conservation requirement was a surface cleaning that restored the painting to its pristine original state.

Run Krieghoff Cours

Laurier Lacroix

Il y a encore beaucoup de recherche à caractère historique à poursuivre sur l'art de Cornelius Krieghoff et celles-ci sont d'un apport essentiel, comme le démontrent les communications présentées à ce colloque. Nous sommes confrontés, depuis les recherches de Marius Barbeau, de J. Russell Harper et maintenant de Dennis Reid, à un corpus d'œuvres qui se développe de plus en plus en qualité et en nombre. Aussi, il m'apparaît important, dans la foulée des travaux de François-Marc Gagnon et de Didier Prioul, d'avancer des pistes de lecture pour analyser et interpréter cette production.

Parmi les nombreux aspects qui m'intéressent, j'ai choisi de soulever d'une manière pré-iconographique une question qui traverse l'ensemble des représentations humaines chez Krieghoff, qu'elles portent sur des Amérindiens ou des Canadiens. Sa peinture offre un certain nombre de thèmes, de noyaux et d'enjeux en regard du rapport des personnages à l'espace et au temps.

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Cours Krieghoff Run

Up until now, studies on the art of Cornelius Krieghoff have been concerned with establishing a biographical framework and creating a significant catalogue of this neo-Canadian painter's work. The artist's constant moving and travelling about and the fact that he created replicas of his paintings, necessitated this foundation work to chronicle an account of his life and to establish a more definitive corpus of work. This brief paper is an interpretation of Krieghoff's painting, taking into account two recurring factors – the artist's creating numerous versions of the same composition and his travelling – and contrasting them with the theme of movement and a race.

Krieghoff à Québec

L'invention d'un nouvel espace

Didier Prioul

En proposera, pour commencer, la comparaison du Campement indien à Caughnawaga avec Les chasseurs. Ces deux paysages, d'un format presque identique, témoignent d'expériences contradictoires. Au théâtre d'une nature pensée en atelier, à Montréal, s'oppose l'empathie de l'artiste avec son environnement, dès son installation à Québec. Le second, avec sa clarté et ses percées diagonales, se démarque de la solide composition du premier, confinée au premier plan avec une maigre trouée lumineuse à gauche. Pourtant, en y regardant de plus près, on s'aperçoit que les deux paysages sont presque des reflets en miroir : un grand arbre au tronc court et massif, fortement enraciné sur un monticule rocheux, déploie sa frondaison en tonnelle sur toute la largeur de l'image. D'un côté comme de l'autre, il cadre l'espace de la narration et l'inscrit dans une relation de complémentarité entre vision proche et vision lointaine. Les proportions et la manière sont moins différents qu'inversés, qu'il s'agisse de l'imbrication des plans, des personnages ou de la lumière. Par contre, l'espace-temps est bien différencié dans les deux cas; nous y reviendrons plus loin.

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Krieghoff In Quebec City

The Invention of a New Space

When Krieghoff moved from Montreal to Quebec City in 1852–53, he took great care to demonstrate that he was deeply committed to working out-of-doors. He depicted himself on the shore of Lake St. Charles, in front of the picturesque motif of an abandoned settler's cabin deep in the wilderness, or in a dangerous location above St. Anne's Falls. His prominently-placed drawing portfolio announces the artist's encounter with nature. Thus, the painted landscape becomes nature itself as it integrates the autobiographical experience. Empathy is the key word that undeniably describes Krieghoff's art during his ten years in Quebec.

Some Discoveries Following Upon the Publication and Exhibition of Krieghoff: Images of Canada Relating to the Formative Significance of the Artist's Montreal Period

Dennis Reid

One of the ambiguous delights following the presentation of a body of intense research is that new material inevitably comes to light. People whose interest had been piqued by the publication of Krieghoff: Images of Canada in November 1999 or by the exhibition it accompanied across Canada over the next two years, brought a provocative bit of early-twentieth-century Quebec City gossip and four noteworthy paintings to my attention. The group portrait The Shakspeare Club discussed elsewhere in this volume by my colleague at the McCord Museum, Conrad Graham, also surfaced in response to the exhibition. This new information expands our understanding of the ten years Krieghoff spent in Montreal before moving to Quebec. It also suggests that much of what has been recorded as the artist's "flowering" in the "old capital," both in terms of a key personal relationship and his development as a painter, had been fundamentally established in Montreal.