Lot Sale Results

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes
Spring 2017 - 1st Session Live auction

Lot # 066

Edward John (E.J.) Hughes
BCSFA CGP OC RCA 1913 - 2007 Canadian

Going to Court (Village Constable)
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1955 and on verso signed, titled, dated Dec. 1955, inscribed variously and with the Dominion Gallery inventory #E1628 and stamped Dominion Gallery, Montreal
20 x 24 in  50.8 x 61cm

Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Private Collection, Vancouver
Sold sale of Canadian Post-War & Contemporary Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, May 28, 2014, lot 56
Private Collection, Vancouver

Ian M. Thom, E.J. Hughes, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2002, pages 91, 96 and 98
Jacques Barbeau, The E.J. Hughes Album: The Paintings, Volume 1, 1932 – 1991, 2011, a reworked state of the 1955 painting reproduced page 75

In response to a 1952 letter from his art dealer Dr. Max Stern of the Dominion Gallery in Montreal regarding an upcoming exhibition in which Stern encouraged a varied approach to his imagery, E.J. Hughes stated, “Regarding figures & still-lives, I am gradually becoming more anxious to do some heads, figures, figures in landscape, and still lives.” In 1954 Stern suggested that Hughes paint a mounted policeman, and Hughes responded: “Regarding birds, animals, Mounted Policemen in paintings, I have wanted to do all these, especially the Mounted Policemen in their well designed uniforms (also the old N.W. Mounted Police) for years.” Of course, during World War II, while Hughes was an official war artist posted to Kiska, Alaska, his extraordinary paintings and drawings were full of troops and officers in uniform going about their activities on base; many of these works are in the Canadian War Museum.
This work has an intriguing history. When Hughes sent the work to Montreal, he informed Stern, “The figure and setting are from imagination, but were suggested by my observation of the constables (we just have one at a time) in Shawnigan Lake Village.” According to Ian Thom, Stern was delighted by the work and asked for another painting including a Mountie, but Hughes did not produce another one. Later, this painting was reworked by Hughes in 1980, and its title of Village Constable was changed to Going to Court.
This iconic Canadian image is a rare example of Hughes’s paintings that prominently feature figures. Hughes ultimately kept the composition simple to emphasize the figure, surrounding him with the horizontal slats of the buildings, and in the background a screen of trees and a single cloud in the sky. The vibrant red of the uniform also draws the eye straight to the figure. The immaculately dressed Mountie has a pleasant expression – perhaps experiencing pleasure at the beautiful day in the small community of Shawnigan Lake in which his duties did not involve any difficult policing, just a day at court in which he would be acting to carry out justice. Going to Court is not only an image of this rural community in the South Cowichan Valley that meant so much to Hughes, but is also an iconic image of Canada in the eyes of the world.
Accompanying this lot is a related detailed 1956 graphite drawing titled Village Policeman. The drawing exhibits a number of differences from the 1955 painting: a light tracery of a car in the lower right and a different version of the policeman’s right hand, which grips his gloves. As it was dated a year after the original work, it may have been produced as a way of working out some different ideas about elements of the 1955 image. It is a fascinating document of Hughes’s process of creating his images. To be able to offer the canvas and the drawing together provides a fine opportunity for a collector to acquire these related images.
The dimensions of the drawing are 14 1/2 x 17 3/8 in.

Estimate: $35,000 ~ $45,000 CAD

Sold For: $55,250.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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