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Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Return from Church, 1919
SOLD
 
Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
 
 
 
LAWREN S. HARRIS, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Return from Church, 1919
Oil on Beaverboard 10 ½" x 13 ¾"
marked in graphite, `10 ½ x 13 ¼` (verso, upper left);
inscribed in ink by Bess Harris, ‘Return from Church / Lawren / Harris’ (verso, upper right);
inscribed in ink by artist, ‘RETURN FROM CHURCH / Lawren / Harris’ (verso, upper right);
marked in red ink, ‘53’ (verso, centre);
inscribed in ink, ‘property Bess Harris / Sept 1958 / Bess Harris Collection’ (verso, centre left);
marked in ballpoint pen, ‘C14’ (verso, centre left);
type on printed label of McCready Galleries, Toronto (verso, lower left).
 
 
 
Provenance
Artist, Vancouver;
Bess Harris, Vancouver;
S.C. Torno, Toronto, by 1969;
McCready Galleries Inc., Toronto;
Private Collection, Montreal, by 1978.
 
Exhibited
Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Lawren S. Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes 1906-1930, January 14 - February 26, 1978, cat. no. 83
 
Literature
Jeremy Adamson, Lawren S. Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes 1906-1930 (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1978) reproduced p.103 fig. 6;
David Silcox, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson (Toronto: Firefly Books, 2003) reproduced p. 54;
 Paul Duval, Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings (Toronto: Cerebrus Press, 2011) reproduced p. 118.
 
 
   
  More about this painting  
   
 
The first subjects Lawren Harris painted following his return from Germany in 1908 were street scenes in the older areas of Toronto. Harris explained that in his painting of Georgian houses, A Row of Houses, Wellington Street of 1910, “the endeavor was to depict the clear, hard sunlight of a Canadian noon in winter. An attempt was also made to suggest the spirit of old York.” But old York was in a constant process of transition as the descendants of early settlers had abandoned the area for more salubrious districts further north and immigrants and light industry moved in, becoming new residents of an often hastily built shack town. The human drama of urban change is revealed in the peeling plaster, isolated figures and touches of colour in Harris’ paintings of the downtown Ward and later of Earlscourt and Gerrard Street East.

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(Fig. 1) Return from Church 1919 Oil on canvas 40 x 48 in. (101.8 x 122.3 cm) National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (5006). Gift of the artist, Vancouver, 1960

In 1919, Harris painted one of his finest city paintings, Return from Church, (fig. 1) which he specifically selected for donation to the National Gallery of Canada. Dated 1919, the canvas was first exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists in March 1919 as Sunday Morning and described by M.O. Hammond in The Globe as “a procession of churchgoers on Sunday Morning.” Unlike the figures in many other city paintings, the figures are dressed in their Sunday best and form a procession across the middle ground while two women enter from the foreground centre left. The large house in the background and the two trees define the space and assert the horizontality of the composition, reinforced by the horizontal brush strokes in the banks of snow.

The oil sketch for this major canvas provides a wealth of information on the artist’s working process. While the principal elements are already there, the house, the arrangement of figures and two leafless trees, the palette has been considerably altered. In the sketch bright yellow blinds and green shutters complement the lively mauve steps to the houses. Harris has included more of the house to the left and the fence separating them is the same green as the shutters. The figures all wear brown or black coats whereas in the canvas he creates a rhythm of quiet brown, red, black and green figures, accentuating the top hat on the man to the left, eliminating the yellow shutters and muting the bright palette of the plaster cladding and shutters. However Harris reinforces the rough texture of the broad brushstrokes seen in the sketch to enliven the surface of the canvas.

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(Fig. 2) Houses, Chestnut Street 1919 Oil on canvas 32 x 36 in (81.7 x 97.2 cm). The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa. Gift of Joan F. Pelly, Edward D. Fraser, John C. Fraser, Charles L. Fraser, 1985

Houses, Chestnut Street (fig. 2) of 1919, now at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa was exhibited as In the Ward I in the same Ontario Society of Artists exhibition as Return from Church. Yet the two paintings differ considerably. They share the same horizontality with the space marked by the two trees and facades, but the former, devoid of human presence, is even more texturally brushed, the wet paint approximating more closely the peeling white plaster on the façade. The green trim and yellow blinds in the sketch for Return from Church are reinterpreted here on a wet autumn, not winter, day.

This sketch was one of those specially kept by Bess Harris, to be eventually donated or bequeathed to a public institution. However in the 1960s she needed money to fund the publication of her book on Lawren Harris that was published by Macmillan of Canada in 1969. She sold this sketch as well as the study for the 1924 canvas, Maligne Lake, Jasper Park and Pic Island.

Charles C. Hill, C.M.
From Lawren Harris & Canadian Masters, Alan Klinkhoff Gallery 2017

Charlie Hill began working at the National Gallery of Canada in 1972 and was Curator of Canadian Art from 1980 to 2014. The exhibitions he organized  and publications he wrote include “Canadian Painting in the Thirties” (1975), “To Found a National Gallery. The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts 1880-1913” (1980), “Morrice A Gift to the Nation The G. Blair Laing Collection” (1992) and “The Group of Seven Art for a Nation” (1995). He was co-curator and contributed essays to the catalogues of “Tom Thomson” (2002), “Emily Carr A New Perspective” (2006) and “Artists, Architects, Artisans Canadian Art 1890 - 1918” (2013). He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2000, received an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia University in 2007 and the Award of Distinguished Service from the Canadian Museums Association in 2012.
 
   
 
  
Lawren Harris Biography
 
 
 
Lawren Stewart Harris, a Canadian painter, was born October 23, 1885 in Brantford, Ontario. He was a key figure in the creation of the Group of Seven, also a founding member and first president of the Canadian Group of Painters. Harris also later became a leading abstractionist who believed that colour and form were capable of expressing spiritual truths. Coming from a wealthy family, he was able to devote himself entirely to his art.

 Related Pages


Lawren Harris studied in Berlin, Germany, from 1904 to 1908, where he became interested in theosophy, a mystical branch of religious philosophy that would influence his later painting. He then returned to Toronto. In 1908 he went on a sketching trip to the Laurentians; in 1909, with J.W. Beatty, he sketched in Haliburton. That fall he went to Lake Memphremagog. At the same time, he drew and painted street scenes of the older and more modest areas of Toronto.

Harris developed into a magnificent landscape painter, transforming the powerful forms of nature into works of force and elegance. In 1913, he financed the construction of the Studio Building in Toronto with his friend, Dr. James MacCallum. The Studio provided artists with cheap or free space where they could live and work. Later, in 1918 and 1919, Lawren Harris with J.E.H. MacDonald financed boxcar trips for the artists of the Group of Seven to the Algoma region. Another painting trip after Algoma was to Lake Superior North Shore with A.Y. Jackson. In 1920 Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Frank Hans Johnston, Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, F.H. Varley, and Arthur Lismer founded the Group of Seven.

Harris was so passionate about the Lake Superior’s North Shore and fascinated by the theosophical concept of nature, he returned annually for the next seven years. There he developed the modernist style he is best known for. Harris’s paintings in the early 1920’s were characterized by rich, decorative colours that were applied thick, in painterly impasto. He painted landscapes around Toronto, Georgian Bay and Algoma.

During the 1920s, Harris’s works became more abstract and simplified, especially his stark landscapes of the Canadian north and Arctic. His first of three annual trips to the Rockies was in 1924. In 1930, Harris’s landscape paintings became even more simplified as he sailed to the Arctic with A.Y. Jackson aboard a supply ship.

From 1934 to 1937, Harris lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he painted his first abstract works, an artistic direction in which he would continue for the rest of his life. In 1938 he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and helped found the Transcendental Painting Group, an organization of artists who advocated a spiritual form of abstraction.

Harris settled in Vancouver in 1940 and became a leading figure in the Vancouver arts community. He was a strong supporter of younger artists and of the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He died in Vancouver on January 29th 1970.
 
   
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Lawren S. Harris paintings for sale
 
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Morning Sun Over Hill, Lake Superior (Lake Superior Sketch XXVII), 1922
Oil on Beaverboard 10 3/8 " x 13 5/8"
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
A Row of Houses, Wellington Street (Street Painting I), 1910
Oil on canvas 25" x 30"
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Rock, Spruce and Hill (Lake Superior Sketch C), c. 1921
Oil on wood 10 1/2" x 14"
Detailed view
Lawren S. Harris paintings sold
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Rock and Hill (Lake Superior Sketch CXXXII), 1922
Oil on Beaverboard 10 ½ " x 14" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Algoma Sketch XLIII, c. 1920-1921
Oil on wood 10 3/4 x 14 (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Hubert (Algoma Sketch), c. 1918
Oil on composite wood pulp board 13 5/8 x 10 1/2 (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Snow Laden Trees, c. 1916
Oil on wood 12 ½" x 10 ½" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Mountain Form IV (Rocky Mountain Painting XIV), c. 1927-1930
Oil on canvas 48" x 60" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Pic Island Lake Superior, c. 1926
Oil on Beaverboard 12" x 15" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Return from Church, 1919
Oil on Beaverboard 10 ½" x 13 ¾" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Mountain Sketch (Lake and Mountain), c. 1928
Oil on Beaverboard 11 ¾ x 14 ¾ (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, 1924
Oil on Beaverboard 10 ¾" x 13 ¾" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Sun, Fog and Ice, Smith Sound (Arctic Painting IV), 1931
Oil on canvas 40" x 50" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Mitchell Lake, Batchewanna (sic), Algoma (Algoma Sketch CXXII), c. 1918
Oil on board 14" x 10 ¾" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Swan Lake, Algonquin Park
Oil on panel 10 1/2" x 14" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Algoma sketch, c. 1919
Oil on panel 11" x 14" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Lake Superior Sketch, 1923
Oil on panel 11"x 14" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
North of Lake Superior, c. 1921-22
Oil on panel 10 1/2" x 14" (Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Icebergs
(Sold)
Detailed view
  Lawren S. Harris - Galerie Alan Klinkhoff  
 
Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Sand Lake, Algoma, 1921
Oil on panel 10 1/2" x 13 1/2" (Sold)
Detailed view
 
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