Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson
ALC CGP G7 OSA RCA RSA
1882 - 1974
A Frozen Lake
oil on panel
signed and on verso signed, titled, dated April 1914 and inscribed "Canoe Lake", with the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. inventory #5675 and "G. Boughton, Frame Maker, Eaton Ave." and with various framing notations
8 1/2 x 10 5/8 po 21.6 x 27 cm
Estimation : $60,000 - $80,000
Vendu pour : $188,800
Exposition à : Heffel Toronto – 13 avenue Hazelton
The Fine Art Galleries, T. Eaton Co. Ltd., Toronto
Helen McEwen, Toronto
Acquired from the above as a gift
By descent to the present Private Collection, Toronto
Pierre B. Landry, editor, Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Art, Volume Two / G-K, National Gallery of Canada, 1994, the 1914 canvas A Frozen Lake, Early Spring, Algonquin Park reproduced page 192, catalogue #4732
Wayne Larsen, A.Y. Jackson: The Life of a Landscape Painter, 2009, page 63
In January of 1914, A.Y. Jackson moved into the newly constructed Studio Building at 25 Severn Street in Toronto. One of his fellow tenants was Tom Thomson, whom he had met the previous November. It was Thomson who suggested that Jackson visit Algonquin Park, and Lawren Harris also encouraged him. As Wayne Larsen relates, “Armed with warm clothes, his sketch box, and a list of contact names supplied by Thomson, who stayed behind in Toronto, Jackson set off alone for Algonquin Park in February 1914. Getting up there by train in those days was no simple matter—he had to take the Grand Trunk line north to Scotia Junction, near Huntsville, then transfer to the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway, which then took him into the park...When his train pulled into Canoe Lake station late at night, Jackson found the temperature to be a stinging –40°C...The temperature rose considerably by the next morning—it was then just –29°C.”
Thomson’s introductions served him well—Jackson was welcomed by the locals and stayed at Mowat Lodge (previously Mowat Camp). He explored by snowshoe, seeking out many of the places that Thomson had recommended. Jackson was tough, and determined to paint despite the challenges of working in such cold weather, including frozen fingers and paint that stiffened up at low temperatures. He worked alone for a month’s time, after which J.E.H. MacDonald and J.W. Beatty joined him.
A number of important sketches were produced during this trip, with A Frozen Lake being among the best. Upon his return to the Studio Building, he would use it as the basis from which to paint the canvas A Frozen Lake, Early Spring, Algonquin Park, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. It is one of Jackson’s most iconic early paintings of the region - a delicate study of winter, with a small patch of snow-free, exposed land reminding us of the glorious colours from the previous fall. Jackson was a skilled painter of snow, something that he earned by hours spent on snowshoes trudging through forests and across frozen fields. He repeatedly observed first-hand the way that colour plays off of snow, and his paintings show attention to subtle details such as the variety of blue in shadows, the difference between melting and fresh snow, and the multitudinous possibilities of white.
In this fine sketch, he conveys a wonderful sense of distance through the screen of trees in the foreground. There are the trees nearest us, one of which is angled across the scene, those in the patch of snow-free ground—which provides a brilliant splash of colour in the work—and those nearer the lakeshore and falling out of our range of view. They lead us down to the frozen water and take us across the surface of the ice on the lake and out towards the distant hills, where Jackson again echoes the colours of fall. Thomson’s influence on Jackson was very strong at this time in Jackson’s career, and it is visible in the brushwork, colour and composition of this sketch.
Algonquin Park, synonymous with Thomson’s name, was equally influential as a painting place for Jackson, which adds to the poignancy of this sketch. It is possible that this work depicts Canoe Lake, as we know that Jackson painted there in the deep cold of February 1914. After this first introduction to the park, Jackson was so enthused that he returned again in the fall for six weeks, this time in the company of Thomson. During that fall trip, he would paint the sketch for The Red Maple, an equally iconic work, also in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Estimation : $60,000 - $80,000
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