Lot Sale Results

Lawren Stewart Harris

Lawren Stewart Harris

Lawren Stewart Harris
Spring 2017 - 2nd Session Live auction

Lot # 138

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

Mount Owen Near Lake O'Hara / Mountain Sketch XII
oil on board circa 1926
signed and on verso signed, titled and inscribed with the Doris Mills inventory #7/12 and "4760 Belmont Ave., Vancouver" in Harris's handwriting on the frame
12 x 15 in  30.5 x 38.1cm

Collection of Ronald and Margaret Wilson, Vancouver
By descent through the family to the present Private Collection, Vancouver

Doris Mills, L.S. Harris Inventory, 1936, Rocky Mountain Sketches Group 7, titled as "Mountain Sketch", catalogue #12, location noted as the Studio Building, and a drawing of this work illustrated by Hans Jensen

The distinctive triangular peak of Lake O’Hara’s Mount Owen—clad in semi-permanent snow—has the clean lines and refined profile that would have instantly appealed to Lawren Harris. Framed over an inviting meadow and stretched out beneath a vivid blue sky, Mount Owen and its surrounding peaks caught the eye of more than one painter. The vista also appealed to Harris’s fellow Group of Seven painter J.E.H. MacDonald, who sketched it from roughly the same location as did Harris and used it as the source material for his important and rare mountain canvas The Front of Winter, now in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. In all of these works, the distant peak of Owen reclines languidly, a white-capped backdrop for the rest of the peaks in the area. Harris (as did MacDonald) painted it from the crest of McArthur Pass, near the edge of McArthur Meadows, an open area on the lip of the McArthur Lake basin at a junction on the present-day hiking trail. A large cairn now marks this spot, and one wonders if Harris or MacDonald might have added a rock to it some 90 years ago, when the cairn was in its infancy.
From historical documents, we know that Harris visited the region first in 1926, registering into the newly opened Lake O’Hara Lodge on July 17. He returned two years later, one day earlier, on July 16. His visits did not overlap with those of MacDonald, who preferred Lake O’Hara in her fall clothing. So while they painted many of the same locations—and as with Mount Owen, from almost the exact same spot—their sketching trips did not overlap. Harris painted the view towards Mount Owen at least twice. Another work, in a private collection, shows the peak on a glowing, sunlit day, and from a spot further out on the edge of the basin, closer to the peak.
Here, we see the view in classic Harris colours: blues, greys and whites, with cool deep greens and only a touch of yellow on the edge of the clouds. Harris has devoted roughly one-third each to foreground, middle ground and distance, following the steadfast artist’s compositional rule of thirds. All three sections are unified, resulting in a sense of cohesion, and are treated evenly in terms of brushwork. We might be unaware, looking at this work, of the broad valley that drops off from the edge of the meadow in a series of steep cliffs and separates the inviting near ground from the distant mountains. Harris has staged the scene so that we might dwell on the meadow while contemplating the view in the distance, a painterly device that he perfected while working in the Canadian Rockies.
The foreground of this work has been painted in a greyed brown hue that reflects not only the actual tones of the rocks there, but also works beautifully in the context of Harris’s chosen palette. In this regard, that of colour and more importantly, colour harmonies, Harris was a subtle master. The bands of pale whitish grey between the rocks are tinged with blue and echo the colour in the sky and clouds, as well as that of the mountains. These bands might be summer snow or the remains of winter’s snowpack, which holds its ground in this high alpine region well into the summer months. Mount Owen was named for Frank Owen, a member of Colonel J.J. McArthur’s surveying party, who mapped and named most of this region of Yoho National Park in British Columbia.
We thank Lisa Christensen, author of A Hiker’s Guide to the Rocky Mountain Art of Lawren Harris, for contributing the above essay.

Estimate: $400,000 ~ $600,000 CAD

Sold For: $421,249.99 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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