LOT 147

1888 - 1949

A Canyon Wall, Algoma
tempera on board
signed Frank H. Johnston and dated indistinctly and on verso titled and titled and dated circa 1920 on the gallery label
19 1/2 x 14 5/8 in, 49.5 x 37.1 cm

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000

Sold for: $34,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Private Collection, Ontario

Roger Burford Mason, A Grand Eye for Glory: A Life of Franz Johnston, 1998, page 32

Frank Johnston participated in three of the four Group of Seven journeys to Algoma: the 1918 and 1919 fall boxcar trips and the fall of 1920 trip, based at Mongoose Lake. The boxcar trips were the stuff of legend – Lawren Harris arranged the use of an Algoma Central Railway car, specially outfitted with bunks, chairs, a water tank, a stove and bookshelves. Railcar 10557 was transported along the railway to remote locations, and as J.E.H. MacDonald commented, “That figure became our street number on the long way of the wilderness.” Johnston was an enthusiastic participant in the sketching forays into the spectacular surroundings and in the nighttime painting “crits” and discussions about painting and the character of the country.

During the 1918 trip, the artists painted the wild grandeur of Agawa Canyon. It is possible that this striking work was based on a plein air sketch of a canyon hillside there. The perspective looking up is marvellous, as the landscape ascends from a tumble of rocks through trees and shrubs, interspersed with rocky shelves, to a blue sky with dreamy cloud formations rising over the top of the hill. This gloriously atmospheric painting is executed in tempera, a medium in which Johnston was considered a master practitioner.

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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