LOT 116

1871 - 1945

Forest Glade
oil on paper on canvas, circa 1935
signed with the estate stamp and on verso titled and inscribed with the Dominion Gallery inventory #E1566 on the gallery label
18 x 12 in, 45.7 x 30.5 cm

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

Sold for: $181,250

Preview at:

Estate of the Artist
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Private Collection, Victoria

Emily Carr sketched outdoors from early in her career. These outdoor works, both watercolours and oils, were generally conceived of as studies for canvases she would later execute in her studio. Like her colleagues in the Group of Seven, Carr produced many more on-the-spot sketches than canvases. Her first-hand recording of and reaction to the landscape and forest allowed Carr to quickly and decisively record her initial reactions. These works, done on location, would sometimes become the basis for a more considered work, painted on canvas, that was developed in her studio.

Carr’s initial studies in the landscape were either watercolour or oil on panel works. By the early 1930s, Carr had begun to paint directly from the landscape using relatively inexpensive manila paper as a support. Carr’s unmediated response to her subject required a new painting method, and she began to use oil paint thinned with gasoline as her primary sketching medium. The oils on paper she produced, which vary in size, allowed Carr to work rapidly to record her chosen subject.

Forest Glade is an example of Carr’s direct approach to depicting landscapes. Painted on site, the work has an immediacy that comes from Carr’s close engagement with her subject. The whole image is animated by bold brushwork and decisive placement of the elements of the composition. The immediacy of the scene is suggested by the quickly painted foreground, which allows the viewer to place themselves in relation to the landscape. It is viewed from a slightly elevated position, allowing us to see into the forest itself. The fact that Carr has chosen not to include a distant view is indicative of her own experience of the forest.

The greater world is not ignored, however. The inclusion of a patch of sunlight in the middle distance and the pattern of light on the right side of the central tree trunk allow the viewer reference to the larger world. That being said, Carr’s main interest is the forest itself. Her differing treatment of the foliage of the fir trees is striking, with the paint applied with a staccato energy. The smaller trees in the foreground are painted in a bright yellow green, which speaks to young growth. The larger central tree has expressive and sweeping darker green foliage, intimating that a breeze animates the whole scene.

The sketch is enlivened by Carr’s rhythmic and powerful brushwork, which suggests that, for Carr, the forest was a locus of energy. Equally apparent is Carr’s willingness to use expressive rather than realistic colour—note, for example, the vivid blues that light up the left half of the work, giving the image both greater depth and expressive conviction. Clearly, Forest Glade was painted with both decisive speed and considerable energy. Carr was deeply engaged with her subject. For her, the forest was a place of both visual excitement and spiritual energy.

We thank Ian M. Thom, Senior Curator—Historical at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1988 to 2018, for contributing the above essay.

Please note there were two Emily Carr estate stamps. The National Gallery of Canada has the lower case stamp and the BC Archives has the upper case stamp in their collections. Lawren Harris used the upper case stamp (EMILY CARR) to stamp works before sending them to Dr. Max Stern of the Dominion Gallery, who handled the estate of Emily Carr. Dr. Stern had the lower case stamp (Emily Carr) at his gallery in Montreal.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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