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Visual Art

The painter Charles HUOT drew praise for his artistic talent and the nationalist character of his works. A reviewer of his solo exhibition, held in 1900 at the legislative building in Quebec City, made this observation:

“‘The first thing that strikes the visitor ... is ... the national, almost patriotic character of the works.... The perfume of Canadianism that they give off is exquisite.’ The landscapes and genre scenes inspired by the inhabitants of the Île d’Orléans, where Huot had spent his last few summers, were well received by people supporting clerical-nationalism. At the time, attachment to religion and to tradition dominated the discourse of French Canadians, who recognized themselves in and projected themselves into some of the subjects treated by the painter.”

Thomas John (Tom) THOMSON, whose landscapes inspired Canada’s most famous art collective, the Group of Seven, painted iconic images of Ontario in the 1910s:

“Through his friends at work, through exhibitions, and through the Arts and Letters Club, Thomson gradually came to the attention of those men who, in 1920, would form the Group of Seven, Canada’s first national school of art. Stimulated by contemporary nationalistic feelings, which embraced the northern theme recurrent in English Canadian literature, and by the northern Symbolist landscapes hung in an exhibition of Scandinavian art in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1913, these men came to champion the wilderness as the strength of Canada, the north as the location of that strength, and populist, design-based techniques as preferable to ‘foreign-begot’ methods. The fact that they were all southern urban dwellers who had learned art techniques abroad did not worry them one whit.”

To learn more about how Canada was expressed in the visual arts during the post-confederation period, please consult the following biographies.

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