LAWREN STEWART HARRIS
Thoreau MacDonald (son of J.E.H. MacDonald), Toronto
Collection of Mrs. A.C. Kenny
Private Collection, Oakville
Jeremy Adamson, Lawren S. Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes, 1906-1930, exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1978, page 14, 23 and 43 and page 43, cat. no. 24 for The Drive (Collection of the National Gallery of Canada), reproduced.
According to an inscription by Thoreau MacDonald on the backing, this work was probably executed circa 1912. MacDonald suggests: “The lumber camp may have been within Algonquin Park or northern U.S.”
In 1909, Harris spent weeks on assignment for Harper’s Magazine in a Minnesota lumber camp. Adamson writes: “It was here that the artist first came in direct contact with the austere majesty of the north.” The Minnesota trip did not only yield commercial material for Harper’s, but from sketches made there, Harris selected two Minnesota subjects to exhibit in the Ontario Society of Artists exhibit of that year. For the 1912 spring O.S.A. exhibition, Harris exhibited six canvases including a logging scene, The Drive, that was one of only two full scale canvases Harris had done to date and according to Adamson his first distinctly Northern Ontario subject. Clearly, Harris had identified a trope in the lumber camps and log drives that was the ideal vehicle for his expression of the “North” the interpretation of which he would pursue in paint and poetry for decades to come.
While Harris had also visited Algonquin Park by 1914, it seems more likely that this lot pre-dates this, and was executed ca. 1912 as suggested by Thoreau MacDonald.