Lot Sale Results

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson
Spring 2017 - 2nd Session Live auction

Lot # 134

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson
ALC CGP G7 OSA RCA RSA 1882 - 1974 Canadian

Mining City, Cobalt, Ontario
oil on canvas circa 1932
signed and on verso titled on the Dominion Gallery label
20 x 25 in  50.8 x 63.5cm

Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Manuge Galleries Ltd., Halifax
Private Collection, Toronto

Naomi Jackson Groves, A.Y.’s Canada, 1968, page 120

Ontario Society of Artists, Toronto, 80th Annual Exhibition, 1952

In A.Y. Jackson’s travels throughout Canada, he engaged with all kinds of people, including engineers, prospectors and miners. He painted at Eldorado Mine in the Northwest Territories; the Jack Wade mining camp in Alaska; at Coleman, a mining town in Alberta; at the Smallwood Mine at Schefferville in Quebec; and at Cobalt, 90 miles north of North Bay in Ontario. The town of Cobalt, incorporated in 1906, developed due to its proximity to scores of mines opened to extract the silver and cobalt ore discovered in 1903. The element cobalt is used in steel alloys called high-speed steel, and it is also of interest to artists, as it is used in the formation of blue pigments.
Jackson made several sketching trips in the 1930s to Cobalt—he was there in September and October of 1932, in the company of his friend, the scientist and artist Dr. Frederick Banting, and traveled there again in October of 1935. Jackson’s niece Naomi Jackson Groves relates that Jackson “enjoyed the subjects offered by its steep slopes, the jutting mineshafts and higgledy-piggledy houses built before the streets, which wended their way around them with such picturesque irregularity.” After the initial discovery and silver rush, mining continued up to the 1930s, but was in decline. Jackson commented, “The palmy days were over by the time I got there, but the people had stayed on, subsisting somehow. It was a wonderful place to paint, especially under some snow. I can’t find a thing to work on in towns laid out on a grid.”
There is in this work an echo of the social realism seen in fellow Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris’s paintings of working-class Toronto that he produced in the 1920s. But there is a different point of view here—Jackson was a man of the people, and not drawn to esoteric philosophy. He clearly has an affection for the weathered, time-worn structures he depicts in this mining town that grew up haphazardly, without planning. Houses crowd together in the centre and along the road, seeming to huddle closely for the warmth of human contact. Bright colours pop from below the snow-capped roofs—in the foreground is a blue door, and house walls are painted red, ochre, blue and turquoise.
Although the pattern of the town’s structures dominates this superb canvas, the snowy ground surrounding the houses and the backdrop of hills and sky give us a sense of the landscape enveloping the town. Jackson ties the whole scene together with the curving lines of the street, which snakes through the town. At the top of the road, Jackson includes people out walking and one of his iconic motifs—a horse and sleigh. Jackson’s expressive brush-strokes fluidly define the snow piled on roofs, the rolling lines of the land and the ruts in the softened slush on the road. In Mining City, Cobalt, Ontario, Jackson has captured the pulse of life of this historic town in a rich and satisfying image.
The National Gallery of Canada has in its collection three of Jackson's graphite sketches of Cobalt from 1932, plus a 1932 oil sketch entitled Cobalt, Ontario and a 1932 oil sketch entitled Mine, Cobalt, Ontario.

Estimate: $125,000 ~ $175,000 CAD

Sold For: $217,249.99 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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