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Immerse yourself in Canada a century ago and discover a new chapter of art history
Edward Maxwell (1867–1923), Legislative and Executive Building, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1909. Royal Canadian Academy of Arts diploma work, deposited by the architect, Montreal, 1911. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © NGC.

OTTAWA.- The National Gallery of Canada invites the public to immerse itself in Canada at the turn of the 20th century by walking through its ambitious exhibition Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890 – 1918. Bringing together more than 320 objects, this fascinating exhibition explores the energetic productivity of art makers and designers during a prosperous time in Canadian history.

“Artists, Architects and Artisans breaks new art historical ground,” explained NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer. “It’s not the final word on a period of immense creativity in Canada. It is, rather, a proposal for new ways to look at the history of the arts in our country, offering viewers and scholars numerous themes to be pursued and expanded in the future.”

The exhibition examines the architecture, urban plans, decorative painting, applied arts, graphic design and photography of Canada’s first boom period, when artistic quality reached a level previously unknown in the country’s short history.

Among the many artists featured are painters Ozias Leduc, George Reid, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté, Tom Thomson and Lawren Harris ; sculptors Louis-Philippe Hébert and Alfred Laliberté; photographers Sydney Carter and Harold Mortimer Lamb; and architects Edward et William Maxell, Percy Nobbs and Samuel Maclure.

1890 – 1918: a prosperous and prolific era in Canada
The decades following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886 to the end of the First World War saw Canada grow from an awkward alliance of formerly independent colonies to an agricultural and industrial nation. Optimism and a new spirit of national pride marked the peak boom years, stimulated by the immense growth in population due to immigration. Urban growth demanded new buildings, which became shells for civic ambitions and new opportunities for art workers. From the furnishings and interiors of a house, to the design and decoration of a public building, to the planning of the streetscape and larger urban fabric, it was an age of reform. Artists, architects and artisans worked together in cooperative ventures, introducing painting into architecture, design and furniture.

One exhibition, one national portrait
Entering the first room of Artists, Architects and Artisans: Candian Art 1890 – 1918, visitors are greeted by Alfred Laliberté’s lively bronze sculpture Boy with Turkey (Air), 1915, brought from Montreal’s Marché Maisonneuve for the duration of the exhibition. This sculpture and Boy with Fish, 1915, which stands at the exit, have been generously loaned by the City of Montreal.

Walking through a dozen rooms in the exhibition, visitors will discover numerous objects – painted murals, detailed architectural drawings and plans, prints, photographs, sculptures, finely crafted jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, stained glass, and textiles – from across Canada, from Halifax and Charlottetown to the Île d’Orléans, Trois-Rivières, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria.

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