Armand Guillaumin

The Museum has recently acquired two paintings by Armand Guillaumin, both of which have been on display in the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace since the building’s inauguration.

Road and Railway
Using quick, vibrant brush strokes, the artist depicted in the centre of the composition a steam train spewing plumes of white smoke as it approaches. It is a classic composition based on oblique dotted lines that faintly suggest a series of electricity wires running along the tree-lined road. Advancing towards the viewer to the left of the image are two figures in clothes suggestive of uniforms (perhaps a reference to the Commune?) and a horse-drawn cart.

The sky emerges above the horizon line and fills more than half of the sober and dense composition. Quick, solid brush strokes overlap in different tonalities, reducing the effect of transparency of the sky. Emphatic touches, combined with broad, rough strokes, evoke the presence of windswept clouds. The dynamism of this composition echoes the encroaching technological advances of industrialization that were sweeping across the French countryside at the time. Such an understanding, while perhaps embryonic in Guillaumin’s mind, is evident in this landscape that contrasts the old and new worlds.

Crozant and the Creuse Hills, Rainy Evening
In the 1890s, Guillaumin, now settled in the Creuse Valley, was drawn to the shape of the heather-covered Puy Barriou that looms in the middle of the hills.1 The view of the Puy Barriou at Crozant was one of the artist’s favourite subjects and is recurrent in his production. Between 1893 and 1922, Guillaumin captured the site in its various seasons.

Crozant and the Creuse Hills, Rainy Evening is remarkable for its rendering of the valley’s warm colours and interweaving nuances of the purple heather-covering that vanishes into the horizon under a pink and grey sky. The subtle lighting and treatment of the surface show Guillaumin’s affinity with Impressionists like Monet and Pissarro, with whom he had participated in shows since the 1860s. However, the use of lively colours and distinct shades of purple, ochre, green and maroon anticipates the purity of the Fauve palette.


1. Christopher Gray and Gilles Kraemer, Armand Guillaumin « de la lumière à la couleur », exhib. cat. (Belfort: Musée d’art et d’histoire, 1997), p. 54.

Ill. 1
Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927), Road and Railway, 1881, Oil on canvas, 73.3 x 100.5 cm. MMFA, gifts of a Toronto admirer, in memory of Bernard Lamarre, a patron of the arts

Ill. 2
Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927), Crozant and the Creuse Hills, Rainy Evening, 1894, Oil on canvas, 59.3 x 81 cm. MMFA, gifts of a Toronto admirer, in memory of Bernard Lamarre, a patron of the arts