Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson
ALC CGP G7 OSA RCA RSA
1882 - 1974
Winter Landscape, Quebec
oil on canvas, circa 1947
signed and on verso inscribed "65-84" on a label and "Murray" indistinctly
21 1/4 x 26 in 54 x 66 cm
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave
Laing Galleries, Toronto
Acquired from the above by a Private Collection, Florida, November 3, 1965
By descent to the present Private Collection, Toronto
A.Y. Jackson, A Painter’s Country: The Autobiography of A.Y. Jackson, 1958, page 60
Naomi Jackson Groves, A.Y.’s Canada, 1968, page 46
This bright, fresh canvas is likely a depiction of Quebec’s Charlevoix County in the early 1930s. Charlevoix County was one of A.Y. Jackson’s most beloved painting locations, and he traveled there annually for decades. The rolling hills around municipalities such as Les Éboulements and Baie-Saint-Paul provided him with languid and flowing rhythms like the ones shown here, particularly when blanketed with the snow he would traverse by snowshoe. Jackson was drawn to the Arcadian quality of this region, seemingly unchanged by the modern world, and it inspired many of the artist’s most beloved paintings.
Jackson’s paintings of Quebec hold an important place not only within his own body of work, but also within the broader artistic movements of the time. In terms of what has come to be known as Canadian Impressionism, Jackson holds a significant position as a bridge between what could be termed the Ontario and Quebec schools. Broadly speaking, the Ontario school can be identified as having a more expressionist approach, often in an earthier palette, with the aim of capturing the landscape’s rugged vitality. The Quebec school still sought to express that same vitality, though often with a softer edge and focus. An important element of this difference is how closely Quebec artists adhered to classic French Impressionism in their handling of light, particularly when depicting winter. The prism-like fracturing of light on snow into pinks, blues and violets is a hallmark of this style of painting, and is deftly displayed here. Importantly, however, the painting’s overall handling still keeps one foot firmly planted in the expressionist approach more typical of Ontario painters of the time, with the gestural rendering of the trees in the foreground and the treeline in the background. The result is a compelling contrast between the bucolic qualities of the snow and a rough-hewn execution of the trees, adding an effective, yet nuanced element of character to the work’s romantic tone.
It is essential to note, as well, that while Jackson is famous for painting en plein air, canvases such as this one would be produced later in the studio, making the artist’s dazzling treatment of light all the more remarkable. Jackson was able to accomplish this by how he worked on site on his sketching trips. The oil sketches he would produce on boards 8 ½ x 10 ½ inches, and later 11 ½ x 13 ½ inches, were a key element of this process. Often executed briskly during changing light and weather conditions, they held an immediacy that would inform a larger canvas. Another important, though often less heralded element of his on-site process was his pencil sketches. These were a valuable form of note-taking, to record the details of the scene as well as what colours should be employed and which approaches taken. Interestingly, often Jackson did the oil sketch first and the pencil drawing second. In A.Y.’s Canada: Drawings by A.Y. Jackson, he is quoted as saying: “Why no, I did this after the oils sketch; that’s how I did nearly all those careful drawings – after I had caught the subject in paint first. The drawing was to help me when I painted the canvas later.” Thanks to these working methods, Jackson was capable of great fidelity in his expression on canvas of sensitively observed moments such as the one seen here.
Please note the circa date on this work should read circa 1947. There is an oil sketch of the same scene titled Fields in Winter, Port au Persil, Que.
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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