LOT 120

BCSFA CGP
1871 - 1945
Canadian

Landscape with Trees
oil on board, circa 1913 - 1919
signed M.E. Carr
16 x 13 in 40.6 x 33 cm

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

Sold for: $337,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

PROVENANCE
Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc., Vancouver
Private Collection, Ontario
Sold sale of Canadian Art, Joyner Fine Art, November 25 and 26, 1987, lot 285
Private Collection, Ontario

LITERATURE
Maria Tippett, Emily Carr: A Biography, 1979, page 118
Doris Shadbolt, editor, The Complete Writings of Emily Carr, 1993, Growing Pains: An Autobiography (1946), page 436
Kiriko Watanabe et al., Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing—French Modernism and the West Coast, Audain Art Museum, 2019, the canvas Oak Wood, circa 1913- 1927, reproduced page 92; the canvas Autumn, circa 1912 – 1913, reproduced page 121; and the canvas Arbutus Tree, circa 1913 – 1920, reproduced page 124


Emily Carr’s period of study in France in 1911 with the British expatriate artists John Duncan Fergusson, Phelan Gibb and Frances Hodgkins led to her developing a vocabulary of bright Post-Impressionist colour. She worked out of doors in French villages and the countryside, and her handling of colour, light and paint itself broke through to a new freedom. Carr had been ready to evolve - she already had an innate sense of colour, took a joyous approach to painting, and made bold choices in her subject matter of wilderness landscapes and First Nations settlements, but sought a more modern way to express them. She returned to Canada with new confidence as a painter, stating, “I came home from France stronger in body, in thinking, and in work…My seeing had broadened.” There was a new vigour in her work: bright colours, bold ideas about composition and an open, assured style of brushwork.

Back in Vancouver, in March of 1912 Carr held an exhibition of her French work in her studio, and while it received a positive reception in the press, which noted her use of brilliant colour, she did not sell any paintings and struggled financially. She returned to Victoria and had to find other sources of income - she ran a boarding house, raised purebred dogs and produced crafts such as pottery and hooked rugs, in which she used First Nations motifs. All these activities took up most of her time - particularly the boarding house, called Hill House, which she came to loathe. She did not stop painting altogether and maintained a studio in her house, but in the period between 1913 and 1927 did few works, often undated. Maria Tippett wrote, “What little painting she did after 1913 was done within walking distance of Hill House – in Beacon Hill Park and along the Dallas Road Cliffs – or during the summers at her cottage.”

Locations such as Beacon Hill Park provided solace for her soul and subjects for her paintings. In Landscape with Trees, Carr depicts the two trees, one evergreen and one deciduous, with brilliant colour and a free approach to form. Carr’s trees are expressive of different “personalities”; they dominate the work like two protagonists in a play. With its downward-curved branches, the evergreen stands still and stately, while the deciduous tree is very festive and playful, with its sprays of leafy branches reaching across the painting’s surface. Carr’s brushwork is energetic throughout, a precursor to her later painting style, with its strong rhythmic movements of energy sweeping through the landscape.

In this French-influenced work, Carr applied her paint mostly unmixed, to express the new way of seeing she had acquired in France. She made bold choices - the evergreen is cobalt, the ground is orange red, and the gnarled trunk of the tree on the right is loosely composed of strokes of grey, red and blue. With all these brilliant colours set against a pale blue sky, the painting radiates the light of a sunny autumn day.

Landscape with Trees is a spontaneous and rare example of Carr’s work from this period in her life. The powerful lessons of her time in France were still resonating through and transforming her work. Despite the challenges she faced during this time, she was painting works that were among the most advanced modern art being created in Canada.


Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars


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