This exhibition examined the dialogue between two important Canadian artists, James Wilson Morrice (1865–1924) and John Lyman (1886–1967), put into context with the French master, Henri Matisse (1869– 1954). The two Montreal artists crossed paths with Matisse in France and North Africa during the early twentieth century. These encounters proved to be decisive not only for the development of their respective pictorial expressions, but also for the entry of Canadian painting into modernity. The exhibit featured portraits, nudes, Canadian landscapes, and scenes from Venice, North Africa, Northern France, the West Indies, and the Caribbean, which all share an unmistakable quest for light and an exceptional mastery of colours.
The two Canadian painters thrived in the creative ferment of the French capital, light years away from the conservative Canadian arts scene. They kept company with Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and found in him qualities of freedom and authenticity they were seeking. Lyman studied with the French master at the Académie Matisse in 1910, while Morrice and Matisse, of the same generation, became friends during stays in Tangier in 1912 and 1913.
Organized and circulated by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, a government corporation funded by the Ministry of Culture and Communications of Québec. The Museum acknowledges the generous support of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Canada. Curated by Michèle Grandbois, Curator of Modern Art, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.