Lot # 150
Fall 2012 - 2nd Session Live auction
James Edward Hervey (J.E.H.) MacDonald
ALC CGP G7 OSA RCA 1873 - 1932 Canadian
Morning, Mountain Camp (Cathedral Peak from O’Hara Camp)
oil on board circa 1924 ~ 1927
on verso signed, titled and titled "Cathedral Peak from O'Hara Camp" crossed out and inscribed "not for sale" "367" and "1701"
8 1/2 x 10 1/2 in 21.6 x 26.7cm
Acquired directly from the Artist by Mr. and Mrs. Hume Wrong, Toronto
By descent within the family of the above, Ottawa
Robert Stacey and Hunter Bishop, J.E.H. MacDonald: Designer, 1996, a Christmas card entitled Lake O'Hara Camp reproduced page 26, plate #1:15
In 1924 and 1925, when J.E.H. MacDonald sketched at Lake O’Hara, he stayed in one of the private cabins in the Bungalow Camp. From these charming hand-hewn log cabins, he would have looked out on to various views; the Wiwaxy Peaks in the north, Mount Schaffer in the south and Cathedral Mountain in the north-west. From 1926 onward, MacDonald would have stayed either in the newly built Lake O’Hara Lodge, or again in one of the spruce cabins that had been sledded across the meadow to the shore of Lake O’Hara proper in the winter of 1926. We know from the historic guest registries at Lake O’Hara that he stayed in cabin number three, which faces Mounts Lefroy and Victoria, but until this charming work came to be consigned to Heffel, we did not know that he had also stayed in one of cabins that faces northwest to Cathedral Mountain from the lakeshore. The tiny snippet of blue water, just visible in the lower rightmost corner of the window in the scene, matches the vista from one of these west-facing lakeshore cabins. It is perplexing, however, that the title includes the phrase “O’Hara Camp” which is largely associated with the Alpine Meadows and would date the work before 1927. While the views, west towards Cathedral Mountain, would have been the same, the lake would not have been visible from the meadows. Despite cross-referencing MacDonald’s journal entries, comparing the signatures in guest registries and referring to the family tradition of the original owners, we cannot be certain of the exact year MacDonald executed this work. What we can be certain of, however, is its charm.
Cathedral Mountain dominates the skyline at Lake O’Hara with its distinctive, chimney-like silhouette that throws the mountain’s profile into long shadows at the end of the day. From the title of this work, and from the blue shadows on Cathedral’s south-west side, we know that this painting depicts the morning sun on the peak as MacDonald would have seen it from the comfort of his cabin. The unlit oil lamp and the rumpled blanket on the bed further the sense of intimacy in the work - as if MacDonald has just risen, thrown open the window curtains and, in looking out onto the brilliant morning, has decided to make a sketch of it at once. He did this often, sketching in the morning before breakfast and in the evening after his day’s hike. The composition of the scene is quite interesting; it has been arranged as a framed work within a frame, the windowsill providing the borders to the view outside, and the individual panes of glass each serving as a smaller frame - thus each contains a smaller painting. The warm tones of the iron bed frame carry over into the windowsill woodwork, the bedcover and the table, which serve to act as anchors and set us back slightly from the window itself. The work has an honest sense of charm and simplicity that is characteristic of MacDonald’s Lake O’Hara interior scenes, of which only a handful are known to exist.
MacDonald used the silhouette of Cathedral Mountain in a number of his design images and as a banner motif on several design commissions; it also features in his poetry. When a majestic and towering mountain subject was required, Cathedral Mountain was his preferred peak.
We thank Lisa Christensen, author of The Lake O’Hara Art of J.E.H. MacDonald and Hiker’s Guide and Hiker’s Guide to Art of the Canadian Rockies for contributing the above essay and the essay for lot 149.
$280,800 CAD (including Buyer's Premium)
All prices are in Canadian Dollars.
Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business.