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Summary Article: Canadian art
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

The art of Canada, including its long history of indigenous art, especially sculpture and handicrafts. After colonization in the 17th century, French and English influences contributed to the development of a rich tradition of Canadian painting. During the 20th century, Canadian visual arts reflected the diverse cultures of the nation, while art scholars and institutions revived the legacy of traditional indigenous art forms.

In the colony of New France, c. 1670, Frère Luc (Claude François) transplanted the European style of religious painting. After the British conquest in 1759, contact with Europe is reflected in the work of François Beaucourt, who studied in France, and in the early 19th century in the portraits of Antoine Plamondon and Théophile Hamel.

The British legacy was evident in the 18th century style of portraiture of Robert Field in Nova Scotia, and also in landscape, in which Thomas Davies was a pioneer. The Canadian scene was romantically presented by Paul Kane (1810–1871), Cornelius Krieghoff (1815–1872), and Robert Whale (1805–1887). About 1870 the romantic picturesque gave way to greater realism, as in the landscapes of John A Fraser and others and the genre paintings of Robert Harris (1849–1919), who painted the first Canadian mural in 1881, The Fathers of the Confederation. A poetic style of landscape was practised in the 1890s by Horatio Walker (1858–1938), Homer Watson (1885–1936), and William Brymner (1855–1925).

The influence of French Impressionism seen in Maurice Cullen and James Wilson Morrice (1865–1924) led eventually to a national movement exemplified by a group of painters in Montréal from 1910, who developed a powerful regional style – Tom Thomson (1877–1917) is notable among them.

Post-World War II painting shows, besides the attachment to the Canadian scene, a response to abstract art. Leading abstractionists include Jean Paul Riopelle and Harold Town. Later artists reflect the influence of technology and the trend toward film and multimedia.

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