While the history of Russian painting can be traced back to the icons of the twelfth century, painting in Canada emerged only in the second half of the eighteenth century. The earliest landscape representations appeared in both countries in the eighteenth century as well. They appeared in Russia with the vedutisti, painters influenced by a type of seventeenth-century urban landscape painting, featuring classical ruins. In Canada, landscape representations appeared with the topographers of the British Army, trained at the Greenwich Military Academy near London, who were assigned the task of preparing drawings and watercolours to illustrate the topography of the land.

Landscape as a genre was nevertheless late in taking hold, only becoming firmly established in the final third of the nineteenth century. In the 1860s, painters became increasingly interested in the land around them for its intrinsic or historic appeal. Faithful to western European canons of painting, these paintings were more stereotypical representations than true depictions of local landscapes.

Personal influences affected how Russian and Canadian painters, trained in the artistic traditio Read More

While the history of Russian painting can be traced back to the icons of the twelfth century, painting in Canada emerged only in the second half of the eighteenth century. The earliest landscape representations appeared in both countries in the eighteenth century as well. They appeared in Russia with the vedutisti, painters influenced by a type of seventeenth-century urban landscape painting, featuring classical ruins. In Canada, landscape representations appeared with the topographers of the British Army, trained at the Greenwich Military Academy near London, who were assigned the task of preparing drawings and watercolours to illustrate the topography of the land.

Landscape as a genre was nevertheless late in taking hold, only becoming firmly established in the final third of the nineteenth century. In the 1860s, painters became increasingly interested in the land around them for its intrinsic or historic appeal. Faithful to western European canons of painting, these paintings were more stereotypical representations than true depictions of local landscapes.

Personal influences affected how Russian and Canadian painters, trained in the artistic traditions of western Europe, treated landscape painting. Academic painting, Romanticism, naturalism and Impressionism—the dominant movements of the time—informed these artists’ canvasses to a large degree. The choice of frame, the treatment of light or colour, and even the technique used were often determined by conventions transposed, in some measure intuitively, by the painters.


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Robert Reginald Whale

Robert Reginald Whale painted View of Hamilton in 1862.

Robert Reginald Whale
The Bert and Barbara Stitt Family Collection
1862
oil on canvas
74.3 x 93.2 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


At the age of 47, English artist Robert Whale emigrated to Canada and settled in the small town of Burford, Ontario, near Hamilton. Whale painted a number of distant city-views of Hamilton, Dundas and local environs in a manner reminiscent of British painting; Gainsborough, Reynolds and Constable were among his artistic heroes. As such his nature is tamed and idealized, and usually bathed in a soft, gentle light executed in muted tones. His view of Hamilton has the quiet and restrained quality of classical art that one might expect to see in the depiction of the English countryside as opposed to the bustle of an emerging Canadian city.

Robert Reginald Whale

At the age of 47, English artist Robert Whale emigrated to Canada and settled in the small town of Burford, Ontario, near Hamilton. Whale painted a number of distant city-views of Hamilton, Dundas and local environs in a manner reminiscent of British painting; Gainsborough, Reynolds and Constable were among his artistic heroes. As such his nature is tamed and idealized, and usually bathed in a soft, gentle light executed in muted tones. His view of Hamilton has the quiet and restrained quality of classical art that one might expect to see in the depiction of the English countryside as opposed to the bustle of an emerging Canadian city.

Robert Reginald Whale


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi

Autumn on the St. Maurice River, by Otto Reinhold Jacobi, 1862.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman J. Brown, 1982
1862
oil on canvas
50.8 x 71.2 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


As with Lucius O’Brien, German Romanticism and American Luminism influenced German-born Otto R. Jacobi’s style. Although he painted in a Romantic style, he was known to have used photography to achieve a greater degree of naturalness in his landscapes. Intrigued by the Canadian wilderness, the artist went on sketching trips by canoe, seeking to harness something of the new world, a practice that would become habit to a generation of Canadian artists. But despite his adventures in the wild, Jacobi was not entirely successful in capturing the spirit of this country in his finished works, where atmosphere, tone and tenor remain anchored in European aesthetics.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi

As with Lucius O’Brien, German Romanticism and American Luminism influenced German-born Otto R. Jacobi’s style. Although he painted in a Romantic style, he was known to have used photography to achieve a greater degree of naturalness in his landscapes. Intrigued by the Canadian wilderness, the artist went on sketching trips by canoe, seeking to harness something of the new world, a practice that would become habit to a generation of Canadian artists. But despite his adventures in the wild, Jacobi was not entirely successful in capturing the spirit of this country in his finished works, where atmosphere, tone and tenor remain anchored in European aesthetics.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Cornelius Krieghoff

Three Indians in Winter Scene, by Cornelius Krieghoff.

Cornelius Krieghoff
Gift of the estate of H. William Molson
n.d.
oil on canvas
22.8 x 37.7 cm
© The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts


Born in Holland, Cornelius Krieghoff spent his youth in Germany and then chose Canada as his adopted country. Once there, he soon established himself as a painter of winter and autumnal landscapes, French-Canadian habitants, as well as Native people. His works were inspired by his keen interest in nature, specifically the forest, developed during his artistic training in Germany. This painting, depicting the meeting of three Native people, was reconstituted from several observations. Nevertheless, the interaction between the characters depicted constitutes a small theatrical scene glimpsed by us from afar. Winter became the standard backdrop for this type of enactment, which he combined with clothing and accessories typical of Native life.

Cornelius Krieghoff

Born in Holland, Cornelius Krieghoff spent his youth in Germany and then chose Canada as his adopted country. Once there, he soon established himself as a painter of winter and autumnal landscapes, French-Canadian habitants, as well as Native people. His works were inspired by his keen interest in nature, specifically the forest, developed during his artistic training in Germany. This painting, depicting the meeting of three Native people, was reconstituted from several observations. Nevertheless, the interaction between the characters depicted constitutes a small theatrical scene glimpsed by us from afar. Winter became the standard backdrop for this type of enactment, which he combined with clothing and accessories typical of Native life.

Cornelius Krieghoff


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Cornelius Krieghoff

The Habitant’s Home, by Cornelius Krieghoff,1870.

Cornelius Krieghoff
Gift of Reginald W. Watkins, Esq., 1962
1870
oil on canvas
69.5 x 92.8 cm
© Art Gallery of Hamilton.


Between 1840 and 1900, what is now the province of Quebec lost much of its rural French Catholic population to the United States due to poverty and over-farming. As a result, a sizable amount of crown land was opened for settlement along the major rivers. Cornelius Krieghoff painted the homesteads of some of these settlers (known as habitants) along the Saint-Maurice River several times toward the end of his life. His habitants are usually presented in a standard, formulaic manner: self-assured and proud, and in harmony with a benevolent wilderness. Krieghoff’s idealized paintings sometimes present a stark contrast to the often difficult life of the habitant.

Cornelius Krieghoff

Between 1840 and 1900, what is now the province of Quebec lost much of its rural French Catholic population to the United States due to poverty and over-farming. As a result, a sizable amount of crown land was opened for settlement along the major rivers. Cornelius Krieghoff painted the homesteads of some of these settlers (known as habitants) along the Saint-Maurice River several times toward the end of his life. His habitants are usually presented in a standard, formulaic manner: self-assured and proud, and in harmony with a benevolent wilderness. Krieghoff’s idealized paintings sometimes present a stark contrast to the often difficult life of the habitant.

Cornelius Krieghoff


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi

Canadian Autumn, by Otto Reinhold Jacobi, 1870.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi
Purchase, William Gilman Cheney Bequest
1870
oil on canvas
91.4 x 137.5 cm
© The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts


The earliest renditions of Canadian autumn colours were painted by artists who had been trained in Europe, such as Otto R. Jacobi and Cornelius Krieghoff, which shows how one often needs to perceive one’s own reality from the outside. Sensitive to the uniqueness of the Canadian landscape and not particularly interested in reproducing nostalgic paintings of their own homelands, these emigré artists created the first truly convincing Canadian landscapes. After a successful stint as a painter of Prussian royalty, Jacobi emigrated to Canada in 1880. In this painting, Jacobi depicts one of his favourite Canadian subjects: an autumnal forest of dazzling colours.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi

The earliest renditions of Canadian autumn colours were painted by artists who had been trained in Europe, such as Otto R. Jacobi and Cornelius Krieghoff, which shows how one often needs to perceive one’s own reality from the outside. Sensitive to the uniqueness of the Canadian landscape and not particularly interested in reproducing nostalgic paintings of their own homelands, these emigré artists created the first truly convincing Canadian landscapes. After a successful stint as a painter of Prussian royalty, Jacobi emigrated to Canada in 1880. In this painting, Jacobi depicts one of his favourite Canadian subjects: an autumnal forest of dazzling colours.

Otto Reinhold Jacobi


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Forshaw Day

Purcell's Cove; Spectacle Island, by Forshaw Day.

Forshaw Day
Photo: Gary Castle, Purchase, 1961.
n.d.
oil on canvas
30.2 x 50.7 cm
© Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


Shortly after his arrival from England in 1862, Forshaw Day opened a studio on Halifax’s Bedford Row. From this location he worked as a draughtsman, painted and offered private art lessons. Day painted the Nova Scotia landscape in the English academic tradition. This painting of Purcell’s Cove looking towards Spectacle Island, shows the sea at low tide. The scene is tranquil, and while no people are in sight, their presence can be felt in the houses on the shore and the boats anchored in the bay. The only movement stirring the quiet are the birds gliding over the water in search of food.

Forshaw Day

Shortly after his arrival from England in 1862, Forshaw Day opened a studio on Halifax’s Bedford Row. From this location he worked as a draughtsman, painted and offered private art lessons. Day painted the Nova Scotia landscape in the English academic tradition. This painting of Purcell’s Cove looking towards Spectacle Island, shows the sea at low tide. The scene is tranquil, and while no people are in sight, their presence can be felt in the houses on the shore and the boats anchored in the bay. The only movement stirring the quiet are the birds gliding over the water in search of food.

Forshaw Day


© 2003, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Develop an understanding of the geographic influences on culture
  • Understand that art can represent the experience of people
  • Examine how major dominant European art movements influenced the interpretation of the landscape in Canadian painting
  • Be aware of similarities and differences in landscape painting between Russia and Canada prior to 1940
  • Appreciate the development of a distinctly Canadian style of landscape painting
  • Respond critically to a variety of art styles
  • Recognize the emotional impact of art

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