LOT 107

1888 - 1949

October Birches
oil on board, circa 1918 - 1920
signed Frank H. Johnston and on verso signed, titled and inscribed "One of his earliest pai…"[incomplete] on a remnant of a previous paper backing
8 1/2 x 6 in, 21.6 x 15.2 cm

Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000 CAD

Sold for: $37,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. A. Crawford Kenny, Toronto
Bequeathed to the present Private Collection, Toronto

Notably signed Frank H. Johnston, this signature places the production of this intimate oil sketch in the period of Johnston’s career when he was most closely aligned with the artists with whom he would form the Group of Seven. Though his aesthetic would later gravitate towards a more classical style, his approach during this period was grounded in the Group’s search for a means of authentically expressing the landscape around them. This search would uproot many of the artistic norms that represented values broadly held across Canada.

This dense yet tranquil forest interior is described in rich textures, with the earthy palette of the leaves and foreground heightened by delicate hints of blue in the background. Though executed in a gestural manner, in its flatness, the sketch retains a subtle element of Art Nouveau, an important influence for Johnston and the Group. The birch trees reaching to the very top of the image emphasize the verticality of the composition, which is deftly contrasted by a single horizontal branch.

Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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