Thursday, September 6, 2018

Impressionist Treasures at the National Gallery of Canada

Even when we owned an apartment in the By Ward Market within steps of the Musée des beaux-arts du Canada on Sussex Drive and regularly walked our French bulldog Monroe on the magnificent precipice surrounding the Gallery overlooking the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal and the majestic Parliament buildings, we seldom ventured into the Gallery unless there was a specific display of interest.  Today we were moved to attend the collection of impressionist paintings once housed in the manor of a notable Dutch family and subsequently bequeathed to posterity.

"Visitors to the National Gallery of Canada will be treated to a survey of art by the great masters of Impressionism, Post-impressionism and the major trends of French painting that preceded them, such as the Barbizon School and Realism. In one compelling presentation, the luminous landscapes of Corot, Monet, Sisley and Pissarro rub shoulders with the naturalism of Courbet, the still-lifes of Manet and Matisse, the intimate portraits of Renoir and Morisot, and the imagination of Gauguin. This exhibition of 76 paintings is also a unique opportunity to discover unparalleled works from the Danish Golden Age, including those by C. W. Eckersberg and Vilhelm Hammershøi. Experience one of Europe’s best-kept secrets at the National Gallery of Canada. Impressionist Treasures: The Ordrupgaard Collection has been organized by Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen​ and the National Gallery of Canada."

Wandering about the Gallery I was never certain whether it was the architecture of the place or the paintings which attracted me more.  It occurred to me as well to thank the Government of Canada for doing such a splendid job on the men's washroom - testimony to the capacity of endless public money.

I could have sworn that I heard the dulcet tones of Beatus Vir playing in the airy indoor garden.  We did as well succumb to our curiosity to revisit parts of the regular collection.  Occasionally we glanced out the spacious windows onto the buzzing urban humanity.

My preference as usual was for nautical scenes.

The precision pieces - both old and new - captured my attention as well. What peculiar allure the mechanical nature is!

The other people looking at the paintings went mostly unnoticed.  We were all preoccupied with what we were seeing.

It wasn't however long before we tore ourselves away.  Walking under any circumstances has never been my favoured occupation.  I had sufficiently expiated my guilt for having thus long ignored my artistic exposure - as gratifying as it was.  We descended to the world of reality by conducting a family visit on our way home.  That too quenched an appetite.

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