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Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
Rock, Spruce and Hill (Lake Superior Sketch C), c. 1921
This painting is available for sale
Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Lawren S. Harris, C.C., LL.D. (1885-1970)
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"
signed ‘Lawren / Harris’ (recto, lower right);
cross in circle (verso, upper left);
inscribed in graphite, `10 3/8 x 13 5/8` (verso, upper left);
inscribed `Bess Harris / Collection` (verso, centre left)
inscribed in red marker `73 (verso, centre left);
written in ink by Doris Mills on printed label “Rock, Spruce and Hill” / Lake Superior Sketch / C (100) / Lawren Harris / 5 / 10 3/4 x 14” (upper centre);
written in black crayon ‘4/10’ (verso, centre right)
Bess Harris Collection;
Private Collection, Montreal;
Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal;
Private collection, Toronto
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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