What a treat it was to visit the National Gallery in Ottawa this month. Their summer blockbuster is a show of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings from a Danish museum, the Ordrupgaard Collection. Because the Danish venue is currently closed for renovations, the collection is traveling and we are fortunate enough to be included on the touring schedule.
The exhibition includes 76 paintings, with a good mix of still life, portrait and landscape. The posted information is informative, and the chronological display allows the viewer to see the evolution of French painting, beginning in the mid-1800's, and the context in which Impressionism began, as a reaction to the academic tradition.
|Flowers and Fruits, Henri Matisse, 1909|
|Portrait of a Young Woman, Paul Gauguin, 1896|
|Waterloo Bridge, Overcast, Claude Monet, 190|
My favourite Impressionist is Camille Pissarro. I especially love his city scenes. Often he painted from an elevated position, showing us the scene from his window.
|Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris, Camille Pissarro, 1897|
|Morning Sun in the rue Saint-Honoré, Place du Théâtre Français,|
Camille Pissarro, 1898
|Plum trees in Blossom, Éragny, Camille Pissarro, 1894|
I am prompted to learn more about the painter Eva Gonzalès, whose work and name are unfamiliar to me. She was a student of Edouard Manet, and died in 1883 at the age of 34.
|The Convalescent, Portrait of a Lady in White,|
Eva Gonzalès, 1877-78
Part of the exhibition is given over to Danish painters. I was most intrigued by the work of Vilhelm Hammershøi, as it has an "alienated" quality, not unlike that of Edward Hopper or Alex Colville.
|Interior with Piano and Woman in Black,|
Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1901
Our visit included a peek at the newly-organized Canadian collection. There has been an effort to include more women artists, and work by Indigenous artists is interspersed throughout the space. A great sampling, including many small studies by Tom Thomson, and staggeringly large canvases by Jean-Paul Riopelle.
The most memorable part of our visit to the National Gallery was the immersion into the soundscape of the Rideau Chapel. Originally the Chapel of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, it was built in Ottawa in 1887-88 and is the only example of its kind in North America from this period to include a Tudor-style, fan-vaulted ceiling. When the original building was sold and later demolished in 1972-73, its interior architecture, in 1123 pieces, was relocated to this annex of the National Gallery.
|Forty speakers positioned around the Rideau Chapel each project a single voice, |
singing "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis, a 16th-century English composer.
This interactive sound sculpture, The Forty Part Motet, was created by Janet Cardiff.
Do consider a visit to Ottawa's National Gallery this summer. The show of French Impressionists continues until September 9, 2018.