LOT 141

1871 - 1945

Beach Scene, Strait of Juan de Fuca
oil on paper on board
signed M.E. Carr and on verso titled and dated circa 1934 on the Heffel label
22 x 36 in, 55.9 x 91.4 cm

Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000

Sold for: $151,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Mrs. R.M. Niddrie, Victoria
Private Collection, Vancouver
Sold sale of Fine Canadian Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, November 6, 1997, lot 114
Ballard Fine Art Ltd., Vancouver
Private Collection, Vancouver

Doris Shadbolt, The Art of Emily Carr, 1979, a similar circa 1934 oil on paper entitled Stumps and Sky, collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, reproduced page 167, and a similar circa 1934 oil on paper entitled Strait of Juan de Fuca, collection of the Edmonton Art Gallery, reproduced page 176
Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr, 2006, pages 55, 59 and 154

In the 1930s, Emily Carr was painting the forests close to her home in Victoria, such as at Goldstream Flats, Metchosin, Sooke and Albert Head. In November of 1932, Carr was on the beach with her dogs, drinking tea and watching the sunset, and as her journal recorded, mused: “Why don’t I have a try at painting the rocks and cliffs and sea? Wouldn’t it be good to rest the woods?” Her entry a few months later on January 25, 1933, asked: “What do I want out there in that open space of sea, bounded above by sky and below by earth, light, space? All space is filled with God, light, love, and peace.” Carr’s beach and sky paintings that ensued were extraordinary explorations of light and rhythmic movement that expressed these feelings.

During the 1930s Carr began to use a new medium of oil on paper – she used oil thinned with gasoline and turpentine on manila paper. This gave her greater freedom creatively, as she could work quickly and intuitively. The manila paper was lightweight and could be taken to her painting sites, and the thinned oils, like watercolour, dried quickly. This medium also allowed her to use great sweeping brush-strokes and to express the energy she found present in the landscape, particularly in the beach and sky paintings.

This view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Vancouver Island and the mainland contains a burst of golden light in both sky and land. The rhythm created by Carr’s broad brush-strokes is strong, leading in the foreground to a group of stumps at the edge of the land, and up into the sky, with its rolling pattern of clouds that reach upwards at the top left. On April 4, 1934, she wrote in her journal: “I woke this morning with ‘unity of movement’ in a picture strong in my mind. I believe Van Gogh had that idea. I did not realize he had striven for that till quite recently so I did not come by the idea through him. It seems to me that clears up a lot. I see it very strongly out on the beach and the cliffs…” She worked at sustaining a momentum with the movement of her brush-strokes and creating pathways for the eye. She experienced a revelation: “Now I see there is only one movement. It sways and ripples. It may be slow or fast but it is only one movement sweeping out into space but always keeping going – rocks, sea, sky, one continuous movement.”

Carr included stumps and logs in her forest works next to living trees, documenting the complete cycle of life in the woods. In this work she includes driftwood and stumps, whose low profile leaves an open view to sea and sky. The tall stump at the right acts as witness to the scene, like a stand-in for the viewer. Young trees and low vegetation nearby hold the promise of regeneration. Carr’s use of colour is warm and glowing, the predominantly golden colouration highlighted by pink and cream. Beach Scene, Strait of Juan de Fuca is exultant, full of vibrating movement, a painting replete with the “light, love, and peace” that she sought to express.

Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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