Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two Rascals And Festival Preparations

Through January, work gets underway at the various Winterlude sites for the festival, which starts on Friday and runs for three weekends. Confederation Park, across from City Hall, is one of the focal points of Winterlude, with ice sculptures set up through the park. I passed through one grey day (we get a lot of grey days in the winter). The shelters were being set up at the time. Christmas trees get a second use, lining various sites through the festival, so they were in place waiting to be set up.

While I was in the park, a couple of squirrels were busy chasing each other. They stopped long enough for me to take some shots. Kleine duivel is a Dutch term that always comes to mind with these devious rascals- it means little devil. Fortunately they're so adorable.

This might seem odd. It is outside Fifth Avenue Court in the Glebe. This and several others have been set up in various locations in the city to be filled with snow- the artificial version of snow that's brought in as opposed to waiting for this thing to fill up naturally. Once that's settled into a cube shape, it's ready for snow carvers to come in and get to work on it for Winterlude. When I passed by this one yesterday, it was in the process of being worked on.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Fundamental Things Apply

I have been keeping regular track of the ongoing project at the National Arts Centre. My last post is here. Work continues on the glass enclosure around portions of the building, due to be finished by Canada Day. I crossed to the south side a few days ago, one of those days where blue sky was elusive and short lasting.

Some of the work crew can be seen on break in the background. I decided to do a close up photo of the sculpture of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

The NAC remains open during the project, and this poster for an upcoming screening of the film (with the orchestra playing the music) could be found. Incidentally, if you're wondering about the title of this post, it's part of the lyrics for As Time Goes By.

Heading up to the terrace, I came to where public access ends, managing to capture a glimpse of Parliament Hill at the end of Elgin Street. This is on the west side of the building.

Coming off the terrace, I came to the east side of the building for another view north.

After running some errands nearby, I photographed the north side of the NAC, starting at Plaza Bridge over the Canal. You can see how quickly the clouds had moved back in.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter Is The Finest Season

Though I imagine some people might disagree. I don't exactly know why... I mean, what's wrong with winter?

I have some views of the best of all seasons today. This is Southminster United Church late in the afternoon.

This ravine can be found downtown near the War Museum and the Firefighters Memorial. Part of the Ottawa River is diverted upstream through here, rejoining the main body of the river further down. The frozen water below has a white water course set through here for kayakers in warmer weather.

This is a store window that some of you might remember. Boogie & Birdie sells eclectic curiosities, and the store staff tend to decorate the front window with some of the stuffed animals they keep inside. At present, the critters are wearing scarves and hats.

Here we have the Rideau River at Billings Bridge, on two separate days. The water below the bridge tends to stay open through the winter, so it's a haven for those ducks who choose to stay; they also get fed by some of the locals.

This was on the second day. Someone had brought bird food down to the ice, and the ducks were taking to it with much chatter. There's actually a Canada goose among them. I guess he or she decided to stay here over the winter, which is a rare thing.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Museum In The Winter

Earlier this month I stopped by the Canadian Museum of Nature to photograph the Landscapes Of Canada Garden in winter. This area takes in four distinctive areas- boreal forest, prairie grassland, Arctic tundra, and Mammoth steppe. The grasses and plants are buried under the snow, and the young evergreen trees are wrapped up for the winter. The iceberg sculpture and the three mammoths here in the garden stand out well amid the snow.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sculptures And Paintings

Today I am finishing up my current series from the National Gallery of Canada with this set. I'm planning on making another visit in March, because I want to see the Alex Janvier exhibit again before it's done.

The Judgment Of Susannah is an oil painting dating to 1720-21. It is the work of the French artist Francois Boucher, in fact his first recorded work. It depicts an Apocryphal account of the prophet Daniel, who can be seen rushing in at the right to defend the wrongfully accused Babylonian Susannah (sometimes called Susanna, depending on the artist). The two elders who have accused her of adultery will soon meet a bad end for bearing false witness. The story often turns up in classical art; there's at least one other painting here at the Gallery depicting aspects of the story.

Garden Of An Italian Villa is a 1764 oil painting by Hubert Robert (whose name came up among the paintings in the series I showed you earlier this month from the Napoleon exhibit at the Museum of History). The French artist had spent time in Italy, and it had an influence on him.

When I'm here, I seem to always photograph Antonio Canova's marble Dancer, done circa 1818-22. It's the second version of a sculpture the Italian artist first did for Empress Josephine; the first version is at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

This marble bust, Empress Josephine, was done circa 1805-08 by French artist Joseph Chinard.

This oil painting was a delight to see; it's a new acquisition for the Gallery, an anonymous gift by a Canadian collector. Elizabeth Louise Vigee LeBrun was a court artist for Marie Antoinette who wisely got out of France early in the Revolution and stayed in exile for some years. This 1796 portrait is Countess Tolstaya, depicting the Russian noblewoman in a classical, but equal, setting. Vigee LeBrun was the subject of a joint retrospective in 2016, first at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, then here at the Gallery, where I attended. I took no pictures at the time, but never actually noticed if there was a no pics policy. Seeing this was a pleasant reminder of her work. I'm presently reading a book of her work, compiled for that retrospective.

The Cliffs At Etretat is an 1866 oil painting by the French artist Gustave Courbet, depicting the coastline near Le Havre in Normandy.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted this portrait, Claude And Renee, in 1902-03. It shows his son Claude held by the baby's nurse Renee Jolivet.

And I finish with this 1896 oil painting by Camille Pissarro. The Stone Bridge In Rouen, Dull Weather depicts the view of the inland port that Pissarro would have seen from his window.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Victorian Sensibilities

Thomas Lawrence painted this formal portrait in 1800-01. Sir Alexander Mackenzie shows the Scottish born man who joined the fur trade out of Montreal, beginning a life of trading, exploring distant corners of the country, and interacting with First Nations peoples. In 1789 he traveled down the great river that today bears his name all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Four years later Mackenzie found a passage through the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean- a full decade before Lewis & Clark. He was knighted for his efforts, and sat for this portrait with the artist while in London.

Frederic Leighton painted this oil painting, Actaea, The Nymph Of The Shore, in 1868. This is a figure of Greek mythology, one of the Nereids, the fifty daughters of Nereus the old sea god. The classical references of mythology allowed Victorian sensibilities to overlook that whole erotic quality of the painting. 

This is another Victorian era oil painting circa 1878, The Letter, by James Tissot, a French artist who spent several years in Britain. It is thought that the setting of this painting is the Dutch Garden of Holland House in London. The letter, torn to shreds on the ground, is a common motif among Victorian era paintings, suggesting absent or unrequited love. 

Fate And Love is the title of this bronze sculpture by the French artist Gustav Dore, done in 1877. It portrays the Greek divinities of Atropos (Fate) and Eros (Love) together.

This bust was nearby- a marble, and it caught my interest, but I seem to have not photographed its details, so it'll have to wait until my next visit.

This oil painting is by George Frederic Watts, titled Time, Death, And Judgment. Painted at some point between 1865-1886, it was a gift of the artist to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, one of the earliest gifts to the National Gallery of Canada. It is an allegorical painting. Time stands on the left, with Death to his right. Above them, Judgement hovers with scales.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Creative Streak

The Castle Of IJsselstein is an oil painting from 1648, by the Dutch painter Jan van Goyen, depicting the castle along the IJssel River near Utrecht. Yes, the double capital at the beginning of both the village name and the river is accurate- the Dutch alphabet has an extra letter composed of the two letters, with a Y sound when it's used in words. I know, it's confusing.

Here we have an early oil painting from Rembrandt van Rijn, The Tribute Money, painted in 1629. Rembrandt depicts the passage from Matthew 22 in which Christ deftly deals with a trap set out for him by telling those who are challenging him "to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's." The painting is an early example of Rembrandt's long fascination with the use of shadow and light in his work.

This oil painting is by another Dutch artist, Meindert Hobbema, done circa 1670. Two Water-mills captures a favourite subject for the artist, whose career was relatively short, with most of his work done by this period. He preferred the natural landscape, and while this has the look at first of an English countryside, it's a Dutch location. The two watermills in the painting appear to have two different purposes, as a flour mill and sawmill, and when you start to really look at it, you start noticing people in the scene. One of the docents in the galleries was by this painting, and we chatted at length about this one, and the others nearby. 

The Return Of The Prodigal Son is an oil painting done sometime between 1665-69 by the Dutch artist Jan Weenix. It presents the New Testament parable in a theatrical way, with the artist's familiarity with Italian landscapes incorporated into the work.

This portrait is by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, titled simply Head Of An Old Woman. It is a study painting done in one sitting around 1615; Rubens meant for it to be source material for incorporating into other paintings, usually as part of a group.

A Dutch artist, Peter Lely, painted this, The Countess Of Meath, around 1674. Lely was active in Britain, serving as a court artist for Charles II. This painting captures Elizabeth Lennard, wife of the Earl of Meath, in a formal portrait, one that also incorporates Roman imagery- the arrow alludes to Diana, goddess of the hunt.

A Midsummer's Afternoon With A Methodist Preacher is a 1777 oil painting by Philip James de Loutherberg, a French artist in the court of Louis XV, who settled in London in the early 1770s. This painting is a mixture of influences- the French and Dutch fondness for landscape art with English moralizing and caricature.