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Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson

Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson

Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson

Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson
Canadian, Impressionist & Modern Art Live auction

Lot # 112

Alfred Joseph (A.J.) Casson
CGP CSPWC G7 OC POSA PRCA 1898 - 1992 Canadian

oil on board
signed and on verso signed, titled and dated 1965 on the artist's label
24 x 28 in  61 x 71.1cm

Roberts Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary
Canadian Fine Arts, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto

Joan Murray, A.J. Casson Retrospective, Art Gallery of Windsor, 1978, listed page 23
Paul Duval, A.J. Casson, His Life and Works: A Tribute, 1980, reproduced, unpaginated

Art Gallery of Windsor, A.J. Casson Retrospective, May 14 - July 9, 1978, traveling to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, July 22 - August 27, 1978, catalogue #67

By 1965, Group of Seven painter A.J. Casson, although already a renowned artist, was enjoying renewed appreciation of his work. In 1957, he had retired from his position as vice-president of the commercial art firm Sampson Matthews Limited, after 32 years with the company. Now all of his energy surged into his artistic career. He was exploring the Ontario countryside on his sketching trips without time restrictions and was painting with vigour. His first solo commercial exhibition occurred in 1959 with Roberts Gallery in Toronto, and by the mid-1960s his shows were selling out – Group members were like national treasures, and collectors were focused on acquiring his work. Casson was deluged with honorary degrees from universities, and a lake and a township were named after him.

In a 1984 letter, Casson pinpointed the location of his original sketch for this work as Moose Lake, a mile north of Pointe au Baril, in the Georgian Bay region. However, he explained that while working on this painting in the studio, he discarded the foreground from the original sketch, deeming it “not suitable for a large painting, as it was merely a clutter of small bushes.” Instead, he used the near shore from another plein air sketch, of the Madawaska River, near the town of Madawaska. The broken stumps and branches were a result of the damming of the river. This work is an outstanding example of Casson’s fine eye for visual effects and of his selective process to create a strong image.

In Afterglow, Casson’s chosen foreground resulted in a clear view to the far shore, which in contrast is treed with evergreens, whose wind-shaped tops are emphasized by back lighting. Casson’s sense of mood and atmosphere, expressed through his sensitive use of colour and understanding of light, is extraordinary. The most noteworthy feature of this exceptional large painting is the sunset sky, which illuminates the edges of the clouds, sets a subtle radiation in the clear firmament above, and reflects back in the still lake, painted in a darker palette of pastel hues. The open sky, tinged by the setting sun, moves in soft gradient layers from gold to mauve-grey to blue. In dramatic contrast, the land is dark, although close examination reveals rocky outcroppings in the foreground rendered in green, highlighted with slivers of orange. His shoreline is dark purple, and strokes of green and purple run through the bark of the shattered stumps and branches. In Afterglow, Casson created a scene of natural drama, inspiring our contemplation of the beauty of this quiet land.

Casson's original 1984 letter accompanies this lot.

Estimate: $70,000 ~ $90,000 CAD

Sold For: $121,250.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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