Lot # 127
Spring 2016 - 2nd Session Live auction

Lawren Stewart Harris
ALC BCSFA CGP FCA G7 OSA RPS TPG 1885 - 1970 Canadian

Mount Sampson, Maligne Lake
oil on board 1924
on verso signed, titled and inscribed "Bess Harris collection"
10 3/4 x 14 in  27.3 x 35.6cm

Provenance:
Bess Harris Collection
The Framing Gallery, Toronto
Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc., Vancouver
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Private Collection, Vancouver

Literature:
Peter Mellen, The Group of Seven, 1970, a related oil sketch entitled Maligne Lake, Jasper Park reproduced page 160
Jeremy Adamson, Lawren S. Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes, 1906 - 1930, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1978, the related1924 canvas entitled Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, reproduced page 169
Charles C. Hill, The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation, 1995, the related 1924 canvas entitled Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, reproduced page 149, catalogue #164, and the drawing made from this sketch entitled Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, Alberta reproduced page 168, catalogue #74
Lisa Christensen, A Hiker's Guide to Art of the Canadian Rockies, Glenbow Museum, 1996, reproduced page 112 and listed page 126

Exhibited:
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, A Hiker’s Guide to Art of the Canadian Rockies, June 22 - October 14, 1996
Edmonton Art Gallery, Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson: Jasper / Robson 1924, September 10, 1999 - January 16, 2000

In July of 1924, Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson took the train from Toronto to Edmonton, and then to Jasper National Park. It is here in the Rockies that Harris refined ideas he had begun to explore in his Algoma works and where the seed of the Lake Superior works was planted. His exploration of theosophical ideas was well under way at this point, and the mountains were soon to be his prime inspiration for his spirituality. Mount Sampson, Maligne Lake is an excellent example of this refinement as it was unfolding, one of the markers on Harris’s trail to enlightenment.
Using the Jasper Park Lodge as a base, Harris and Jackson took two major trips into the back country of the park to paint. One of these was to the vast and remote Maligne Lake. They went first by horse up the Maligne River valley for 45 kilometres to the outlet of Maligne Lake. From there, they continued by canoe down the lake, stopping to camp and explore the surrounding peaks and high alpine valleys as they went. It was a challenging trip; “maligne” means “wicked” and the valley was wild and rough going. Once at the lake, traveling by canoe must have been tranquil by comparison. They set out in an 18-foot canoe and paddled the vast waters of this pristine lake for a distance overall of 25 kilometres.
The lakeshore at Maligne Lake is unforgiving, with very few places flat enough to camp or even pull up a canoe. At the 15 kilometre point they would have discovered the beautiful region of Maligne Lake Narrows - the site of Spirit Island and one of the few places one can camp. The spot is famous in photographs by Byron Harmon and the subject of one of Harris’s most important Rockies works: Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, 1924, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. This spot and the peaks surrounding it provided Harris with a wealth of material that strongly appealed to him. He did numerous pencil drawings from the crests of the mountains he and Jackson climbed, and sketches of peaks from there to the end of the lake at Coronet Creek include Mounts Charlton, Unwin, Maligne and Paul.
From the Narrows, they canoed to the opposite shore of the lake and sketched from the rocky shoreline. It was there that the view of Mount Samson that we see in this work would have greeted them. It resulted in this tranquil painting as well as the pen and ink drawing Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, Alberta, 1924, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. Mount Sampson, Maligne Lake is a rhythmic exploration of an ancient mountain. At this high elevation, there is little tree line left before the mountain becomes bare rock. Harris has emphasized the curving vertical lines of the peak which scallop upwards, taking our eye with them. These planes of rock, once having lain flat, have been thrust up by the forces of geological time, a concept that would have greatly appealed to the burgeoning theosophist in Harris. The foreground rocks on which he would have sat to work echo Mount Samson (Sampson was Harris’s spelling of the mountain) in their composition, colour and handling. The chalky waters of the lake and the undetailed band of forest, barely green, further the consistent and extremely limited palette that Harris was a master in using. Slight outlines on all of the imagery - from clouds to rocks to forest to lake - give the work a unified and serene feeling.
We thank Lisa Christensen, author of A Hiker’s Guide to the Rocky Mountain Art of Lawren Harris and director of Heffel’s Calgary office, for contributing the above essay.
The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto have partnered on a major exhibition entitled The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. The exhibition is curated by Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum, and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibit is on at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston until June 12, 2016 and will open on July 1, 2016 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Estimate: $250,000 ~ $300,000 CAD  
Sold for: $413,000 CAD (including Buyer's Premium)

All prices are in Canadian Dollars.

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