LAWREN STEWART HARRIS
Acquired from the artist’s family
By descent to the present owner, Toronto
Jeremy Adamson, Lawren S. Harris, Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes 1906-1930, exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1978, page 83.
Paul Duval, Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings, Cerebus Publishing, Canada, 2011, page 194 and page 184 for a closely related work entitled Autumn, Batchawana Lake XXIX, 1918, reproduced in colour.
The boxcar trips, arranged by Lawren Harris, in which he and his painting friends travelled north to Algoma are well-documented and we know that in 1919 (the second boxcar trip) the party stopped at Batchawana, the last point on the trip, where they remained for about a week. By mid-October they were back in Toronto.
Harris found himself challenged by “the superabundance of colour, the infinity of detail and the continuous change in the appearance of the countryside as winter approached”. In these works he and his fellow artists recognized the need to simplify their compositions down to the most essential shapes and colours. And yet this lot retains, with success, many of the complexities of the Batchawana experience. It is often said that Algoma confounded Harris, however, this lot most emphatically refutes this. Rather Harris had developed many positive associations with the Algoma visits; they helped restore his health which had become fragile during the war years. Duval quotes Harris as remarking that he found Algoma “a veritable paradise for the creative adventurer to paint in the Canadian north”. Duval continues: “The small panels with their brilliant, almost liquid, brushwork convey a virtuoso performance.”