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Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Algoma (Beaver Swamp), 1920
SOLD
 
Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
 
 
 
LAWREN S. HARRIS, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Algoma (Beaver Swamp), 1920
Oil on wood 10 ½" x 14"
Signed ‘Lawren / Harris’ (recto, lower right);
written in graphite by artist, ‘H. Thomas / Mrs.’ (verso, upper left);
written in graphite, ‘Mr. Bunnet / 43 Kingsway’ (verso, centre).
 
 
 
Provenance
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal, before 1980;
Private collection, Montreal

 
Literature
Paul Duval, Lawren Harris Where the Universe Sings (Toronto: Cerebrus Publishing 2011) p. 202 reproduced incorrectly as collection Art Gallery of Ontario, The Thomson Collection.
 
 
   
  More about this painting  
   
 
In May 1918, following his discharge from the army, Lawren Harris travelled to Manitoulin Island and up the Algoma Central Railway with Dr. James MacCallum, co-financier of the Studio Building. They returned to Algoma in the fall of 1918 with Frank Johnston and J.E.H. MacDonald and, in the fall of 1919, they were joined by A.Y. Jackson. Algoma offered numerous opportunities to paint in a land of varying topography and colour and Harris returned to paint at Mongoose Lake in Algoma in the spring and fall of 1920.

This sketch was possibly painted at Mongoose Lake in the fall of 1920 as evidenced by the autumn colour in the background trees. Jackson described Harris’ interests on this trip in The Canadian Forum in March 1921. “H__ and I. each with a marmalade sandwich in his haversack, started off for some beaver lakes whereon are wondrous compositions if one can untangle and sequester them, for this north country has problems that are not explained in the sketching manuals. … We found that our preference for landscape was similar to that of the moose. We both like beaver lakes and meadows. The beaver is responsible for the pastorals of the north country. He is the maker of open spaces, the enlarger and creator of lakes and meadow land.”

The dense hardwoods, spruce and pine woods described by Jackson occupy the background while the foreground is a beaver-drowned swamp. Responding to the particular character of this desolate site, Harris has painted the trees in cool greys with bare wood animating the dead branches and blue-grey sky that in turn illuminates the water and dark reflections.

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(fig. 1) Beaver Swamp 1920 Oil on canvas 47 ½ x 55 ½ in (120 x 140.3 cm) Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (53/12). Gift of Ruth Massey Tovell in memory of Harold Murchison Tovell, 1953

Harris painted numerous oil sketches on his trips to Algoma but few were worked up into larger canvases. Appreciating its special qualities, Harris chose this sketch for a canvas that is dated 1920 (fig. 1) and was first exhibited as Evening, Algoma in the Group of Seven’s second Toronto exhibition in May 1921. The canvas, retitled Beaver Swamp in 1923, was purchased by Dr. Harold Tovell and donated by his widow, Ruth Massey Tovell, to the Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario) in 1953. The oil sketch and canvas differ considerably in colour and mood. In the canvas the bare wood evident in the smaller oil was translated into intense red under-painting and the cool tones of the sketch became sombre blacks and dark blue-purples and olive green-browns, the sky illuminated by the intense dying light on the horizon. Harris’ friend, Augustus Bridle, art writer for the Toronto Daily Star, described the canvas as a “bold attempt to dramatize the north … a marvellous sunset sky, a hill of conventionalized tamaracks – or it may be spruces, jack pines or something else - all seen through a screen of real, red-tinged trees. Here we have realism, symbolism and magnificence.”


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.

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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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