Lot # 132
Spring 2012 - 2nd Session Live auction
BCSFA RCA 1871 - 1945 Canadian
Along the Cliff, Beacon Hill, Victoria
oil on board
signed M. Emily Carr and dated 1919 and on verso signed, titled Horseshoe Bay on the Dominion label and Along the Cliff, Beacon Hill, In the Distance Horseshoe Bay on the board and inscribed with the Dominion Gallery inventory #B1296
15 x 18 in 38.1 x 45.7cm
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Bryan Adams Collection, London, England
Sold sale of Fine Canadian Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, November 9, 2000, lot 243
Private Collection, USA
Maria Tippet, Emily Carr: A Biography, 1979, page 126, reproduced page 126 and colour plate III
Doris Shadbolt, Emily Carr, 1990, pages 153 and 155, reproduced page 152
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Emily Carr, June 29 - September 3, 1990, catalogue #64
Emily Carr’s journey as an artist was not a straightforward one. Her training took her first to San Francisco and then to England, and after each of these episodes of training she sought to establish herself as an artist and teacher in Victoria or Vancouver. It was not, however, an easy role for a young woman to take and while her efforts met with some modest success, she did not feel that she was reaching her full potential as an artist. When in 1907 she made a trip to Alaska with her sister Alice, she determined that her subject would be the First Nations totems in villages. She pursued this in locations such as Alert Bay for the next couple of summers, but decided that she needed to enhance her artistic skills with further training. A period of study in France in 1911 allowed her to explore the ideas of the Post-Impressionist and Fauve painters and, most importantly, gave her painting a new sense of freedom and a greater command of colour. Upon her return to Canada she embarked on an intense period of painting from 1912 to 1913, depicting First Nations poles using the colours and brushwork that she had been introduced to in France. These works were shown in Vancouver in 1913, but Carr was disappointed by their reception and soon after she was forced, due to her economic circumstances, to return to Victoria. For more than a decade, the period between 1913 and 1927, Carr was not principally a painter. She built and ran a rooming house, raised dogs, made pottery, grew berries, made hooked rugs and did almost everything but paint. These “years of discouragement and reduced production”, as Doris Shadbolt described them, were not completely without painting, however. Carr did produce some landscapes, which Shadbolt notes probably number “twenty or so” and which were frequently painted in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park near her home. She was unable to steal much time away from her duties as a landlady and therefore these works are all the more prized.
Works such as Along the Cliff, Beacon Hill build on the foundations of Carr’s landscapes done in France, but show a greater sense of confidence in the handling of paint and a sensitivity to the colours of her own landscape and the softness of the moist atmosphere of the Victoria area. As Shadbolt has noted, few of these landscapes are dated and it is therefore somewhat difficult to ascertain the pattern of Carr’s explorations of “one variant of the Post-Impressionist idiom to another”, therefore a securely dated work is particularly important in clarifying Carr’s progress during the period. Arbutus Tree, 1922, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, is one of the few other dated works. Along the Cliff, Beacon Hill, which uses “larger rolling masses of rich but somewhat muted colour” as Shadbolt defines them, accomplishes something that she never really achieved in her French paintings – a clear realization of the underlying structure of the landscape as colour and light. The surging forms of the cliff have a palpable energy and life to them that transcends the somewhat decorative effect of many of the French landscapes. This is a landscape that Carr knew and loved, and it is in works such as Along the Cliff, Beacon Hill that Carr comes to terms with that landscape and how best to use her French training to depict it. Painted with a vigorous approach, this work reflects “the character of her subject rather than simply imposing a stylistic vision or a manner upon it,” as Shadbolt points out. It is this identity of subject and approach that provides the basis for her great landscapes of the thirties.
$128,700 CAD (including Buyer's Premium)
All prices are in Canadian Dollars.
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