Alexander Henderson, Victoria Bridge, Grand Trunk Railway, About 1878, Albumen print, 18.8 x 24.3 cm, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Expanding Vistas & Landscapes, United States and Canada, 1860-1918

Albert Bierstadt, Yosemite Valley, 1868, Oil on canvas, 137.8 x 184.2 cm, Oakland Museum of California, Gift of Miss Marguerite Laird in memory of Mr. and Mrs. P.W. Laird.

Julian Alden Weir; West Point, New York, 1852-New York, 1919; The Red Bridge; 1895; Oil on canvas; 61.6 x 85.7 cm; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Gift of Mrs. John A. Rutherfurd, 1914; Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Edward Steichen (Bivange, Lexembourg, 1879-West Redding, Connecticut, 1973), The Flatiron (Evening), 1906, Three-colour half-tone photogravure, 20.6 x 16 cm, Photo courtesy McGill University Libraries, Rare Books and Special Collections, Montreal.

Ozias Leduc, Day's End, 1913, Oil on canvas, 50.8 x 34.3 cm, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, © Estate of Ozias Leduc / SODRAC (2009), Photo MMFA / Christine Guest.


Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1380 Sherbrooke West
Michal and Renata
Hornstein Pavilion
Expanding Horizons:
Painting and Photography
of American and Canadian Landscape, 1860-1918

June 18-September 27, 2009

Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918 is the first exploration and analysis of this subject. The show examines American and Canadian landscape painting and photography in the years encompassing the American Civil War, the emergence of the Canadian Confederation and the close of World War I, an era of artistic and historical transformation coinciding with the westward expansion of Canada and the realization of the transcontinental political definition of both countries.

Through the presentation and comparison of American and Canadian depictions of landscapes, the similar and differing intentions underlying their production, their complementary yet distinctive compositional structures and styles, and their prioritizations of subjects, the exhibition will reveal much about both nations. Following its presentation in Montreal this summer, Expanding Horizons travels to the Vancouver Art Gallery in October.

Close to 200 works by American and Canadian artists will shed light on the national and regional identities of these two great countries, in which nature is ever-present.

The generous co-operation of outstanding international public and private collections will enable us to exhibit some of the most celebrated examples of landscape painting and photography ever produced by these two nations. American painting will be represented by such artists as Bierstadt, Chase, Church, Cropsey, Duncanson, Eakins, Hartley, Hassam, Heade, Homer, Inness, Kensett, Moran, O’Keeffe, Remington, Sargent and Twachtman; and photography by Coburn, Curtis, Jackson, Muybridge, O’Sullivan, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand and Watkins, among others.

Outstanding paintings by Canadians, including works by Brymner, Carr, Cullen, Edson, Fraser, Gagnon, Harris, Jackson, Jacoby, Leduc, MacDonald, Milne, Morrice, Suzor-Coté, Thomson and Verner, as well as works by photographers, including Baltzly, Henderson and Notman, will also be presented.

To better explore and analyze these distinctions, the exhibition has been divided into six thematic sections that, while inevitably maintaining a certain chronological flow, also serve to focus the viewer on the different attitudes towards the terms of encounter with nature in the two nations.

Nature Transcendent explores the spiritually infused idealization of landscape conjoined with meticulous detailing embraced by the Hudson River School and its followers.

The Stage of History and the Theatre of Myth explores the historical and mythic framework into which landscape was projected in the two countries and its concomitant depictions of Native peoples.

Man versus Nature investigates the manners in which the transformation, exploitation and destruction of nature were presented in the name of progress.

Nature Domesticated turns to the different vision of nature that evolved in North America as a consequence of its wide-open spaces and the importance of the city.

The Urban Landscape examines the rise of an alternative expression of the optimism and Providential destiny previously articulated by the evocation of Virgin Nature.

Return to Nature addresses the “rediscovery” of the transcendence of nature and its spiritual facets through landscapes by artists working within the stylistic terms of the 20th century.

In keeping with the exhibition’s theme of celebrating nature, the Museum is making a green shift for the design and catalogue of the exhibition by following the principles of eco-design.

Eco-design is a contemporary practice that takes into account the re-use capacity and composition of materials, with a bias towards local products. In order to implement this innovative initiative, the Museum is collaborating with a number of professionals.

For the exhibition design, two companies have accepted the challenge: architecture firm Atelier Big City in Montreal and molo design studio in Vancouver.

The design concept emphasizes recyclable or reusable materials, and the construction methods will be mostly mechanical. The exhibition’s rest areas will be furnished with paper softseating, paper benches made out of 50 percent recycled content. Their organic and harmonious geometrical forms will echo the design of the exhibition by creating actual interior landscapes.

Under the general editorship of Hilliard T. Goldfarb, a catalogue will be published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Publishing Department. This major 320-page publication, with 220 illustrations, includes essays by the members of the academic committee and will constitute a major contribution to the understanding of this period and its landscape art. The catalogue is available in separate English and French editions.

Two partners have been entrusted with various aspects of the catalogue: orangetango is responsible for the graphic design and Transcontinental Litho Acme for the printing. The catalogue mock-up will be printed on two different types of paper: for the text, rough paper composed of 100 percent post-consumer fibres, and for the reproduction of the works, a less absorbent paper composed of 30% post-consumer fibres.

The printing will involve aluminum printing plates, vegetable inks and FSC-certified paper; as many elements as possible surrounding the production of this publication will conform to the strictest regulations of good environmental management.

Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associate Chief Curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is the curator of the exhibition. He is supported by an academic committee of specialists, including Philip Brookman, Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art; Brian Foss, professor, Concordia University, Montreal; François-Marc Gagnon, professor, Director, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia University; Lynda Jessup, professor, Queen’s University, Kingston; Jackson Lears, professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey; Ian Thom, Senior Curator, Historical, Vancouver Art Gallery.


Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara Falls, from the American Side, 1867, Oil on canvas, 257.5 x 227.3 cm, The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Photo A. Reeve.