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Maurice Cullen, Canadian Impressionist

Maurice Cullen - Moret, Winter - Google Art Project
Moret, Winter, 1895
Maurice Cullen was born on the 6th of June, in St. John's, Newfoundland. Cullen grew up in Montreal before studying in Paris in 1888. Deeply inspired by the Impressionism of the period, Cullen developed a brushwork and palette that is rich and vibrant compared to most artists in the genre. He often approached the bucolic landscape with a fresh eye and bold use of colour that makes his work easy to identify and fun to study.
In Moret, Winter above, Cullen uses thick brushes and beautiful impasto strokes with dazzling colours. The reflections in the river have a magical glow of warm against cool hues. Take a closer look at these brushstrokes:
detail, Moret, Winter

Cullen places deliberate strokes while paying close attention to edge control and values. The temperature hues are amazingly accurate also, successfully conveying both cool tones and the brisk temperatures of winter. Pure magic. This river inspired many other Impressionists such as Monet, Renoir and Sisley in Northern France, but no one painted it quite like this. Inspiring.


Maurice Cullen - Winter Evening, Quebec
Winter Evening, Quebec, ca.1905
Despite the low-res image, we can still feel the frosty mood of this dark winter night. Cullen uses an analagous palette of greens and blues to create a monochromatic evening while using textures to contrast between foreground, middle and background. And yet it is those tiny flickering lights that create the sense of depth and space for this winter scene. Cullen creates a mood here that makes us shiver just looking at this painting. This would be a painting to see in person up close.

Maurice Galbraith Cullen - The North River (1921)
The North River, 1921
Done in pastel, this beautifully conveys once again the natural beauty and coolness of winter. Cullen wisely focuses more on shapes than details and uses tone to convey texture. Although the reflections would have probably been more intense and dramatic in oils, here Cullen leads our eye to the snow bank and the trees themselves as the overcast sky provides less reflective quality. Cullen creates real presence here. Quiet. Stillness.

MBAM Cullen - Québec vu de Lévis

Quebec City from Lévis, 1904
Wondrous colour harmonies here. Although his brushwork feels rushed, especially in the clouds, the reflective water is the star of the show here. Look at how thick he applies the paint in the foreground. Love the way those green patches recede in perspective toward the horizon and the reflection of the city in the water. The water itself has unusual, warm tones that complement the icy greens...this works so well. Cullen is a supremely underrated Impressionist with a colorist bent that is striking and hypnotic. This is an artist that needs to be seen in person. Tonality is also important yet Cullen proves that mood is, as always, everything.


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