CULLEN, Maurice Galbraith
(b. 1866, St. John's, Newfoundland, d. 1934, Chambly)

Biography

Canadian painter. In 1870 he moved with his family to Montreal, which became his principal home. After taking drawing lessons in local art schools and studying sculpture with Louis-Philippe Hébert (1850-1917) from 1884 to 1887, he went in 1888 to study in Paris. He was elected an associate of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1895.

On his return to Montreal, he found his preferred subject-matter: the tempered winter landscape (e.g. Logging in Winter, Beaupré, 1896; Hamilton, Ontario, Art Gallery). Later trips to Europe in 1896 and from 1900 to 1902 reinforced his admiration for late Impressionism. In his views of Québec (c. 1900-1910), typified by The Old Ferry, Louise Basin (1907; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada), Cullen infused the atmospheric, inhabited landscape with the grandeur of panorama painting. Unlike his friend James Wilson Morrice, he sought to convey good design in nature rather than impose it on his landscape compositions. In his cityscapes of Montreal (1909-16), Cullen successfully reconciled man and nature, Impressionism and the academic tradition; but he also retained a sense of the romantic and the picturesque.

Cullen exhibited with the Canadian Art Club. In the early 1920s, after serving in Europe as a war artist, his painting became more conservative with increasing emphasis on the factual. When Cullen died, his 'tempered Impressionism' had long been rejected, but his evocation of the familiar later influenced Canadian modernism.