Canadian Fine Art
November 13 — 18, 2021
Auction begins to close at 7:00 pm ET
M. EMILY CARR
Art Emporium, Vancouver, B.C.;
Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art, Vancouver, B.C.;
Private Collection, ON
In the late spring of 1933 Emily Carr set off with her two dogs Koko and Tantrum and her pet white rat Susie on her last major painting expedition. This final painting sojourn outside the local confines of Victoria was undertaken in a quest to capture the spiritual mountain themes she has so admired in the works of Lawren Harris and others. Carr boarded the Pacific Great Eastern Railway at its terminus in Brackendale near Squamish after sailing up Howe Sound from Vancouver. The rail journey lasted from May to June and would take her snaking along vast mountain ranges and through scenic valleys with their small settlements where she disembarked for several days at a time to explore and paint. In her journal entry on June 7th Carr captures her excitement: “The settling down in the train with creatures comfortably arranged for and my eyes all agog to absorb scenery. Mountains towering—snow mountains, blue mountains, green mountains, brown mountains, tree-covered, barren rock, cruel mountains with awful waterfalls and chasms and avalanches, tender mountains all shining, spiritual peaks way up among the clouds.”
Her last stop was Pemberton, where she would have taken in the imposing Mount Currie looming over the valley and the small settlement found there in 1933. "Pemberton" is both an outstanding and a rare example of one of the surviving mountain paintings Carr composed during her visit there. In the painting the central focus is on the majestic mountains thrusting upward from the valley floor with their peaks affecting the trajectory of the blue sky that careens off their snow capped peaks. The village in the foreground is dwarfed by the scene and Carr’s skilled interpretation makes it feel fragile and tentative. Carr’s iconic canvas "Pemberton Meadows" with its mountains towering over a few rows of houses is reminiscent of the scene found here and likely formed part of her inspiration. Carr never continued the pursuit of mountain themes after 1933 but she left us with a few exceptional examples such as the dramatic landscape painting Pemberton.
Dr. Michael Polay is an Emily Carr researcher and author. Recent work includes his contribution to the publication Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing, French Modernism and the West Coast and the associated exhibition that toured Canada in 2020-21. We thank him for contributing this essay.
Carr, Emily, Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr (Clarke Irwin & Company Limited: Toronto, 1966), 35.
Very good condition.
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