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LOT 117

Peter Clapham Sheppard
1879 - 1965

Cabstand, Montreal
oil on canvas, 1927
signed and on verso stamped with the estate stamp #LG222
24 x 30 in 61 x 76.2 cm

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

Sold for: $157,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Private Collection, Toronto

Tom Smart, Peter Clapham Sheppard: His Life and Work, 2018, reproduced page 157
“Peter Clapham Sheppard: A Canadian Master Rediscovered,” https://www.pcsheppard.com/major-canvases/iwkdf758wl2vjksf0i1lrifjdou9ut, reproduced, accessed February 22, 2018
Louis Gagliardi, "On Peter Clapham Sheppard," https://www.pcsheppard.com/pcsheppard, accessed February 22, 2018

Born in Toronto in 1879, Peter Clapham Sheppard produced a wide-ranging body of work that included classical figure drawings, post-Impressionist landscapes and vivid, modernist cityscapes of Toronto, New York and Montreal. He was able to synthesize into his own expression the leading influences of his day - such as the Hague School of the Netherlands, Scandinavian winter landscapes and the Ashcan School of New York - creating a unique and expressive style at a time when prevailing tastes in Canada were decidedly classical. Though every bit the calibre of most lauded painters of the period, for many years Sheppard’s work has fallen victim to an obscurity stemming from the sometimes limiting tendency to think of art history as populated by a series of succeeding movements rather than by individuals. This approach is understandable as it provides an overarching and easily grasped narrative by which to assign importance and value, but it can limit an engagement with the life work of many artists that a more nuanced approach enables.

Though never a part of any particular group, Sheppard belonged to a generation that sought new styles of painting in Canada, and like many, he studied under George Reid and J.W. Beatty at the Ontario College of Art. He painted shoulder to shoulder with the most beloved artists in Canadian art history, but unlike many artists of that period, he held an equal affinity for both rural and urban imagery, which is clearly evidenced by Cabstand, Montreal from 1927.

Typical of Sheppard’s distinctive approach, strongly outlined forms and a heightened palette add a modern sense to the composition. The foreground forms also provide effective contrast against the screen of Barbizon-style trees and the misty rendering of the city beyond. Preparatory sketches for this work, an ink wash drawing and a watercolour, executed on the spot, are shown here, and capture a casual intimacy. The conversing figures and the patiently waiting horses contribute warmly to the sense of a captured moment of what is now a part of Montreal’s treasured past. Textural brushwork lends a sense of authenticity to the scene, such as in the ruts in the snow made by the runners of many previous sleighing excursions. The sleighs themselves, romantic and inviting, welcome the viewer in from the winter chill the artist so convincingly evokes. The overall tone of the work possesses a strength and solidity that is so uniquely Canadian. In Cabstand, Montreal, Sheppard has created a painting that is at once a strong personal expression and a historical document, and it is an exceptional example from a body of work ripe for rediscovery.

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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