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LOT 111

Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson
1898 - 1992

Lake Mazinaw from the Hawk's Nest
oil on board, circa 1951
signed and on verso signed and titled on the artist's label
30 x 40 in 76.2 x 101.6 cm

Estimate: $150,000 - $200,000

Preview at: Heffel Vancouver

Private Collection

D.G. Carmichael et al, The McMichael Canadian Collection, 1979, the related watercolour entitled Cliffs, Lake Mazinaw reproduced page 173

A.J. Casson visited the Bon Echo area, painting specifically at Lake Mazinaw, in the summers of 1951 and 1952 and again in 1957. While we know that he had been there before, in 1928, painting near the Bon Echo Inn with Franklin Carmichael, we presume that this work comes from watercolours painted on one of those three 1950s trips. On the 1928 trip, Carmichael and Casson had produced only sepia-toned oils of the area as designs for a series of two-colour advertisements, the whereabouts and published results of which are unknown. Perhaps as a result of this initial connection, or perhaps because of the area’s mythic reputation and historical significance for artists, Casson returned in the 1950s.
Since F.M. Bell-Smith first painted there in 1911, the vast rock formations that thrust so steeply and dramatically downward into the lake have been painted by Frank Johnston, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer and Charles Comfort, to name but a few. The area had also been a popular tourist destination at the turn of the twentieth century, but languished during the late 1920s, and the hotel, once thriving, was destroyed by fire in 1936. Despite this, the magnificent rock forms in the lake drew artists and writers alike, inspiring several plays and magnificent works of art such as Arthur Lismer’s iconic The Sheep’s Nose, Bon Echo from 1922 that was sold by Heffel in May of 2010. The Walt Whitman memorial was carved into the face of Bon Echo Rock in 1919, and re-dedicated in 1955.
A.J. Casson’s oils, such as this expansive view of Lake Mazinaw, are painted in a style that is uniquely his. His training in design and his skill in watercolour gave him the foundation that allowed him to use oil paint in a much softer, more stylized fashion than was common. He would hone and perfect these skills in the later years of his painting life, creating works of lacy delicacy, using soft atmospheric qualities combined with a feeling for overall pattern. His training in print design also shows in this work. Lake Mazinaw is part of Bon Echo Provincial Park, and Mazinaw Rock, more widely known as Bon Echo Rock, lies in the narrows between the northern and southern parts of the lake. Casson sometimes approached his sketching sites by boat, and thus had a great sense of the movement and patterns of the surface of the water. This large-scale painting, with its lovely zig-zagging bands of colour in the lake, is a fine example of Casson’s masterful work.

Estimate: $150,000 - $200,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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