Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Discover the Colourful Quebec of Yesteryear! Clarence Gagnon: Dreaming the Landscape

Ottawa - October 4, 2006

The National Gallery of Canada presents the largest and most internationally significant retrospective on the work of Quebec artist Clarence Gagnon since his death in 1942. Clarence Gagnon, 1881-1942. Dreaming the landscape will be presented at the Gallery from 6 October to 7 January 2007. The exhibition was organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec through the initiative of its Director, John R. Porter. Presented by Bombardier, the show offers an exceptional journey through more than 200 paintings, engravings and illustrations by the artist.

Internationally acclaimed painter, engraver, and illustrator, Clarence Gagnon was a great traveller and man of the world, as well as being considered one of the greatest landscape artists in the history of Quebec and Canadian art. He divided his career between France and Canada, and his works have been featured in many exhibitions in North America and Europe but this is the first retrospective since his commemorative exhibition in 1942. From the changing seasons of the Beaupré coast and European landscapes to images of Quebec villages and his admirable etchings – which remain the most coveted in the country – from beach scenes and Laurentian romanticism to his book illustrations, including the legendary illustrations for Louis Hémon’s Maria Chapdelaine, this superb exhibition lets us experience the full spectrum of this artist’s contribution to the art of his time: a painter and engraver whose reputation extends well beyond our borders.

National Gallery of Canada Director Pierre Théberge explains his enthusiasm for this exhibition: “Since the beginning of this project, I have made sure that my colleague, John R. Porter, was aware of my interest in our Gallery hosting a retrospective of this famous artist. Clarence Gagnon left his mark on his times and gave Quebec landscape art its reputation. His rich and varied work casts an inspired and sensitive look on the villages of Quebec and with his luminous colouring and skillful compositions, enhances their typical charm. His work portrays a deep attachment to every street and every village, which he beautifully depicts. In viewing one of Gagnon’s paintings, the spectator is touched by its expressiveness, which sparks our nostalgia for the past.”

The exhibition opens with the young artist’s first visits to the Côte de Beaupré in 1900 and then moves on to Europe, where, between 1904 and 1913, he became well known as a gifted printmaker. The third gallery surveys Gagnon’s 1913 solo exhibition in Paris.  After 1913, Gagnon expressed his vision of Laurentian landscapes with increasing brillance. The latter part of the exhibition shows the development of this pictorial theme, culminating with his illustrations for the novel, Maria Chapdelaine, by Louis Hémon.

Clarence Gagnon 1881-1942. Dreaming the landscape is presented at the National Gallery of Canada with support from Bombardier. “Since the work of Clarence Gagnon, one of our greatest Canadian painters, is synonymous with excellence, it is without hesitation that Bombardier has agreed to be this exhibition’s primary sponsor. May it serve as an example and inspiration to Canadian artists and encourage their creativity, perseverance and passion,” says Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Bombardier Inc.

To enhance the viewer’s experience of Clarence Gagnon, 1881-1942. Dreaming the landscape, the exhibition is accompanied by an audio-guide and a magnificent illustrated book. The catalogue provides essays by Hélène Sicotte and Michèle Grandbois, the latter the author a catalogue raisonné of the intaglio prints with Rosemarie L. Tovell and a preface by the Director of the Musée des beaux-arts du Québec, John R. Porter, entitled Clarence Gagnon Illuminating. Published jointly by the Éditions de l’Homme and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the catalogue is available in English and French at the National Gallery of Canada Bookstore.

This retrospective of Clarence Gagnon’s work was designed and sent on tour by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The exhibition will make its next appearance at the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art in Kleinburg, Ontario, from June 2 to August 19, 2007.


The National Gallery of Canada would like to thank Bombardier, presenting sponsor of the exhibition, as well as its media partners, la Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC Television, LeDroit and The Ottawa Citizen.


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Nadia Seraiocco
Senior Media Relations Officer

Anne Tanguay
Manager, Public Relations