Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown
Maurice Cullen

The Water Carriers

Artist

Maurice Cullen
Saint John's, Newfoundland, 1866 – Chambly, Quebec, 1934

Title

The Water Carriers

Date

1907

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

62.5 x 92.5 cm

Credits

Gift of the Club Saint-Denis of Montreal (gift of Joseph Simard), inv. 2016.167

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

Cullen was admitted to the École nationale des Beaux-arts in Paris in 1888, where he first studied with Gérôme and then with Delaunay. He also attended the Julian and Colarossi academies. In 1895, he was the first Canadian artist to become an associate member of the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where his work had débuted the year before; that same year, the French State bought one of his paintings. He soon dedicated himself fully to landscape painting, working from nature in Moret, Giverny and Pouldu. At Grez, near Giverny, during a stay with Canadian artist William Blair Bruce and his Swedish-born wife, he came into contact with the Swedish landscape artists who were disciples of Impressionism.


Back in Canada, Cullen adapted what he had learned from Impressionism to local subjects, which enabled him to explore the landscape’s singular light effects and atmospheric conditions, particularly in winter. For Cullen, “snow borrows the colours of the sky and sun. It is blue, it is mauve, it is grey, even black, but never entirely white.”


This painting was first exhibited at the Salon of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts held at the Art Gallery of the Art Association of Montreal in the spring of 1907. A typical example of Cullen’s work, the painting would be shown almost a dozen times in the following three years in exhibitions held in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto, as well as at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and at the Festival of Empire held at London’s Crystal Palace.

Add a touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation