James Wilson Morrice

James Wilson Morrice

Oil on panel
7.25 x 9.25 inches


James Wilson Morrice (August 10, 1865 January 23, 1924) was a significant Canadian landscape painter. He studied at the Academie Julian in Paris, France, where he lived for most of his career. James Wilson Morrice Street in Bordeaux, Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Montreal is named in his memory.

James Wilson Morrice was born in Montreal, the son of a wealthy merchant, and studied law in Toronto from 1882 to 1889. In 1890 he left to study painting in England. The next year he arrived in Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julian from 1892-7. At Julians he befriended Charles Conder and Maurice Prendergast, and also met Robert Henri.

James Wilson Morrice continued to live in Paris until the First World War, although he spent most of his winters in Canada. He made many connections in the intellectual circles of Paris, while also remaining in touch with the Canadian art world:

  • Joined the Salon d’Automne, 1905
  • Joined the Canadian Art Club, 1907
  • Elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy, 1913

During this period he was also regularly in contact with English expatriate intellectuals living in Paris, such as W. Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, and Clive Bell. In the winter of 1911-12 he shared a studio with Matisse in Tangiers.

With the advent of World War I, Morrice fled to Montreal, and then to Cuba. There he began to succumb to alcoholism. The output of his last period is uneven and infrequent. In the summer of 1922 he travelled to Algiers, where he painted with Albert Marquet. This would be the last time that he painted, as his health began to rapidly deteriorate. He died, aged 58, in Tunis.

Private collection, Toronto

Recommended reading:

James Wilson Morrice: Painter of Light and Shadow, Wayne Larsen, Dundurn Press, 2008:


Biography courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wilson_Morrice