FREDERICK ARTHUR VERNER, O.S.A., A.R.C.A.
Private Collection, Ontario
Joan Murray, The Last Buffalo: The Story of Frederick Arthur Verner, Painter of the Canadian West, Pagurian Press, Toronto, 1984, page 152, page 43 for the 1867 sketches of teepees and page 64 for Sioux Encampment, Red River, 1873, a watercolour based on sketches of Sioux teepees Verner had drawn in 1867, now in the Collection of the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, reproduced.
Verner began his professional life as a photographer and undoubtedly relied on photographs to inform both the composition and detail incorporated into his paintings. Still, he did not undervalue the importance of studying his subjects from life and as early as 1867 was making sketches of teepees on display at the 1867 Provincial Exhibition in Toronto, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
The Red River carts shown in this lot were one of two important modes of transportation in common use throughout Manitoba until the end of the 1800s. (The other is the York boat so famously depicted in woodcut by Canadian artist W.J. Phillips).
Verner, like many artists, revisited popular themes and we find examples of Sioux subjects from the early 1870s through to circa 1920. However, Verner was perhaps less interested in the documentary value of his compositions and was more intent on creating a thing of beauty. Joan Murray writes: “In choosing to paint Indian subjects (Verner) was following a well established convention of his time, but in contrast to the tragic, violent vision of Indians recorded in the work of many American painters, Verner painted tranquil scenes in harmony with nature.”