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Lawren Stewart Harris
L'automne 2010 - 2e séance Vente en salle

Lot # 129

Lawren Stewart Harris
ALC BCSFA CGP FCA G7 OSA RPS TPG 1885 - 1970 Canadian

Houses, Winter, City Painting V
oil on canvas circa 1920 ~ 1921
signed and on verso signed, titled, inscribed with the artist's symbol and stamped Lawren Harris, LSH Holdings Ltd. 187
42 3/4 x 50 3/8 pouces  108.6 x 127.9cm

Fannin Hall Collection, Vancouver
Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc., Vancouver
Private Collection, London

A.Y. Jackson and Sydney Key, Lawren Harris Paintings 1910 - 1948, The Art Gallery of Toronto, 1948, listed page 33
Rosalyn Porter, The Group of Seven and Their Contemporaries, Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc., 1980, reproduced, unpaginated
Roger Boulet, The Canadian Earth, 1982, reproduced page 97
Gregory Betts, Lawren Harris: In the Ward, His Urban Poetry and Painting, 2007, page 18

The Art Gallery of Toronto, Lawren Harris Paintings 1910 - 1948, October - November 1948, traveling to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, titled as Houses, Winter, catalogue #20
The Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Art Museum, London Canada
Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc., The Group of Seven and Their Contemporaries, Vancouver, February 29 - March 22, 1980, catalogue #55

Lawren Harris’s urban paintings include depictions of stately homes, run-down neighbourhoods, derelict harbours, bright summer cottages and tranquil streets. Together they comprise a strong visual record of Toronto’s architecture in the early part of the 20th century. His Toronto works depict the well-heeled homes of the affluent, the run-down area of the Ward, Victorian homes in the older parts of the city, and the factories and warehouses that were symbols of the city’s post-war growth. Many of these images reflect Harris’s growing social awareness, and in them we can see Harris posing social questions such as the unfairness of one’s birth into a life of wealth or poverty, the class system of society, his own circumstances of affluence versus another’s life filled with labour. Houses, Winter, City Painting V is a complex work. At first we notice the fine colour, which is striking and so perfectly balanced, with bright white snow cast in blue shadow, setting off the yellow, red and orange themes of the dwellings we see. Then we notice the surface treatment, which is jaunty and slick and shows the influence of the Impressionist movement. The scene is beautifully painted and architecturally interesting. Overlaying all of this is the almost palpable calmness of the work; it has the stillness of a wilderness landscape rather than an urban one. It is utterly and perfectly quiet, with a cloud-filled sky rolling in the distance. The shoveled pathway and lit windows are the only indications of human activity in or around these quiet, speechless homes.

Harris’s Toronto houses are a fascinating part of his oeuvre, containing elements of Impressionism, glimmers of the stylistic traits of the North Shore of Lake Superior works, social commentary, and overall, his beautiful painterly hand. We can wonder about Harris at work sketching – were there no passersby that he chose to include in these scenes, no figures that he thought might be a part of the final work? Harris was, at the time this work was painted, a new member of the Theosophical Society of Canada’s Toronto Chapter. He was in earnest in his search for spiritual meaning, and his art, writings and poetry all indicate a desire to better himself and, more importantly, through this self-betterment, to improve the lives of those around him by example. He began to seek, in his art, subject matter that would be a metaphor for this quest. His Lake Superior trees, iconic triangular mountains, and serene, isolated icebergs are symbols of something greater than ourselves, something beyond us that we should try to understand. But the Toronto homes and buildings have an added impact. As silent witnesses to humankind’s successes and failures, they are man-made structures, and thus are poignant in a way that the landscapes simply cannot be. Not only are they witnesses to the efforts of the humanity around them, they are a silent part of it. They sit, some beautiful, some worn down, but always dignified, expressive of all that homes and buildings are: comfort, shelter, family, prosperity and hope. But the stillness of this scene, as with Harris’s utterly still landscapes, forces us to contemplate that there is more here than fence lines and porches. As an excerpt from his poem People Are All Right attests:

Men run ’round

Making little fears

Making little havens,

Making little hells,

Making little heavens.

A breath of wind

And away these go.

But men go on forever.

Harris was never dogmatic in his work, never told us outright that we should, as he often did, spend some time in self-reflection, that we should look at our own lives and see what could be improved, where we should seek something better for our fellows and ourselves. He hoped instead that we would notice, through contemplating his work, what he was seeking, and likewise be compelled to seek something better for ourselves.

Estimation: 600,000 $ ~ 800,000 $ CAN

S'est vendu pour: 702,000.00 $ CAN (prime d'achat incluse)

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