Lot Sale Results

Lawren Stewart Harris

Lawren Stewart Harris

Lawren Stewart Harris
Canadian, Impressionist & Modern Art Live auction

Lot # 145

Lawren Stewart Harris
ALC BCSFA CGP FCA G7 OSA RPS TPG 1885 - 1970 Canadian

Bay, Lake Superior (Lake Superior Sketch LXXX)
oil on board circa 1922
signed and on verso signed, titled and inscribed with the Doris Mills inventory #4/80, the Artist's symbol and "5"
10 1/2 x 13 3/4 in  26.7 x 34.9cm

The Art Emporium, Vancouver, 1974
Private Collection, Toronto
Sold sale of Canadian Art, Joyner Fine Art, May 14, 2002, lot 50D
Property from an Important Private Collection to Benefit a Charitable Foundation

Doris Mills, L.S. Harris Inventory, 1936, Lake Superior Sketches, Group 4, catalogue #80, location noted as the Studio Building
Paul Duval, Lawren Harris: Where the Universe Sings, 2011, page 164
Ian A.C. Dejardin, Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2011, page 25

Lawren Harris first saw the north shore of Lake Superior at the end of his fall trip to Algoma in 1921, while traveling on a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train with fellow Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson, and he was struck by the panoramic views. The two artists disembarked at Schreiber and walked to Rossport. Although they were only there for a short period on that trip, Harris was greatly impressed by this stunning landscape, and he returned in October of 1922, camping for a week at Coldwell with Jackson. He went back again on sketching trips in the fall of 1923 and 1925. Of all the Group members, Harris undertook the most powerful transformational evolution, and the Lake Superior landscape brought his metaphysical inclinations to the forefront - his interest in theosophy intensified, and he was in tune with its belief that the wilderness is a repository of mystical experience.

Bay, Lake Superior (Lake Superior Sketch LXXX) retains some links to Harris’s previous work in Algoma – it has the lush autumn colouration seen in his works from that area, as well as the small, rounded and volumetric tree forms. However, it had been pointed out by Jackson that Harris had found Algoma too opulent for his taste, and the greater sense of space Harris found at Lake Superior elicited a strong response in him. He stated, “I felt most at home sketching in Superior. It seemed like an empty canvas in front of me waiting to be filled…Superior offered a challenge by its very simplicity and an opportunity to abstract landscape. The motifs there were uncomplicated and the spaces so wide.”

In Lake Superior works such as Bay, Lake Superior, Harris responded to the rugged, muscular structure of the hills around locations such as the bays near Coldwell. Here Harris chose to look inward towards the land, rather than focusing on the long, open vistas across the vast lake. He depicted large masses of bright foliage on the hills interspersed with rock cliffs, which wrap around the bay. Looking from his high vantage point on the bare stone shelves, Harris pulls our eye to the rounded hills on the other side of the lake and up to more distant hills and a wedge of sky.

Harris’s handling of light is superb – blocks of shade across the cliffs contrast with the glowing fall colours, higher hills in the background are bathed in mist, and the wash of light striking the far end of the lake makes the water glow pale blue. This is the kind of view that stimulates the viewer’s sense of the sublime – it is a landscape that expands the soul. In his Lake Superior works, Harris found, in his words, “wondrous moments…when the outward aspect of nature becomes for a while full luminous to her reforming spirit – and man, nature and spirit are one.”

Estimate: $150,000 ~ $250,000 CAD

Sold For: $114,999.40 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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