LOT 105

1885 - 1970

Birch Trees on a Hillside
oil on board, circa 1915
initialed and on verso inscribed "L.S. Harris" and "Certified the work of L.S. Harris, Thoreau MacDonald"
13 3/8 x 10 1/2 in, 34 x 26.7 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000 CAD

Sold for: $40,250

Preview at:

Thoreau MacDonald, Ontario
Acquired from the above by his friends William Richard Howard & Cecile Winifred Pearson
By descent within the family to the present Private Collection, Ontario

This exuberant and airy sketch finds Lawren Harris exploring one of his favourite early subjects, a grove of birch trees. An iconic Ontario summer scene, Birch Trees on a Hillside is one of at least a dozen explorations of the subject that the artist created in his desire to represent the landscape of Canada. This same subject has also been closely associated with his fellow artist and friend Tom Thomson, and this work is evidence of the dialogue between the two—and the influence they had on each other—as they explored the landscape north of Toronto, sketching together or in parallel in the years between 1912 and 1917. Harris described this phase of his career as focused on “the decorative treatment of the whole glorious surface display of nature, creating patterns in the flat and re-expressing her moods.”[1] In this picture we find him deftly using bold brush-strokes and rich colour to draw the audience into the idyllic scene, gazing up at the grove of trees and blue sky beyond, surrounded with the lush, sun-dappled vegetation and pink Precambrian Shield bedrock.

We thank Alec Blair, Director/Lead Researcher, Lawren S. Harris Inventory Project, for contributing the above essay.

1. Quoted in Bess Harris and R.G.P. Colgrove, eds., Lawren Harris (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1969), 51.

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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