Stella Matutina

I took in the "Mystical Landscapes" show at the AGO -- twice.  Sunday was the final day before they crate everything up and send it off to the Musee D'Orsay for the final leg of it's run. The crowds were pretty daunting, especially (and understandably?) in front of the Gauguins, the Van Goghs, and the Monets -- not so much in front of the Whistler, the Carrs and the Harris.   But returning to the show this second time, I knew where I wanted to go.  A small room off the main hall, exhibiting the work of little known French artist Charles Marie Dulac.   For me, this small, dimly lit room, exhibited work that best exemplified the theme of the show  -- that the contemplation of nature can be a mystical experience for the artist, wherein they connect with a deeper reality and see with greater clarity .  The one work that I simply kept coming back to, the one that arrested me and would not let me go was a lithiograph by Dulac, "Stella Matutina" (The Morning Star).

Charles-Marie Dulac, "  Stella Matutina  ",  lithograph, 32 cm x 48 cm.,  1894. Harvard Art Museums

Charles-Marie Dulac, "Stella Matutina",  lithograph, 32 cm x 48 cm.,  1894. Harvard Art Museums

Painter Ian Roberts once said to me that "you can never render yourself out of a problem" -- basically that a painting succeeded or failed based on the abstract arrangement of the value masses on the picture plane. And yes, to my eyes, this gentle, peaceful and still image checked that box. But in addition, the near monochrome sepia tone of the work, and soft blended edges produced a warm glow that imparted a profound feeling of anticipation -- a portrait of dawn's early light.  As Edward Hopper once stated: "If I could say it in words, there would be no need to paint".