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LOT 103

1879 - 1967

Coast Scene, Howe Sd., BC
oil on canvas
signed and on verso titled and inscribed "WP Weston ARCA 1961"
22 x 26 in 55.9 x 66 cm

Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000

Sold for: $103,250

Preview at:

Alex Fraser Galleries, Vancouver
Sold sale of Important Canadian Art and Jewellery, Sotheby's, November 18, 1986, lot 337
Private Collection, Vancouver

Ian M. Thom, W.P. Weston, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1980, pages 9 and 12
Letia Richardson, Silence and Solitude: The Art of W.P. Weston, Richmond Art Gallery, 1993, page 11

British Columbia Society of Artists Annual Exhibition, label on verso, noted as not for sale

W.P. Weston immigrated to Vancouver from England at the age of 30. He became an influential art teacher who forged the art curriculum for British Columbia schools for over 20 years. His teaching career allowed him to paint without pressure, and he began to explore the West Coast. In 1911, he acquired a Star Class sailboat, which facilitated these expeditions. He soon realized that he had to abandon his previous English training and develop a new artistic vocabulary for the primeval grandeur that he saw. He stated, “I made up my mind to study and know these things [the trees, mountains and shoreline] and to me the best way was by drawing and painting them constantly.” By 1930, his vision was fully realized. His landscapes were pared down to their essentials, his use of light was strong and clear, and his brush-strokes conveyed a sense of solidity and mass. This mature style retained echoes of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Japanese pattern books in his design motifs.

“I like the trees that have had a struggle and that’s why I like to paint the trees along the seashore and up on the mountains. They’re like people who have had to fight to live; they’ve developed character.”

—W.P. Weston

Coast Scene, Howe Sd., BC exemplifies Weston’s admiration for the trees of the coast. Here the two are entwined together like old friends. The tree on the left is stripped of foliage and topped by the battering of the wind, but still clings to life. Its long branches reach out over the water, and one lower branch wraps around the more vigorous tree on the right. The trees’ textured bark is so deeply contoured it appears carved. The rock formations in the foreground emphasize how challenging it is for these trees to survive. Blasted by the winds that surge through Howe Sound in the winter, their roots cling tenaciously to the shallow soil.

This magnificent panoramic view has a high vantage point from the rock formations – the perspective makes the viewer feel as though they are even slightly above the distant snow-covered mountain range. In the distance is mysterious Anvil Island, a distinctive geological feature of Howe Sound, whose steep cliffs plunge straight down into the water. The Indigenous name for the island is Lhaxwm. It was an important place of spiritual training, and in Squamish mythology, a serpent resided at the peak of the island. In the water, Weston creates a swirling circular movement that adds to the impression of Howe Sound as vast - it is as if you see the curvature of the Earth. Zigzag lines of water patterns on the top layer show the power of the currents there.

Coast Scene, Howe Sd., BC is an exceptional canvas that expresses with great clarity the rugged splendour of British Columbia’s west coast. As the artist so eloquently stated, “I painted some pretty wild things, but always I came a little closer to my own language of form and the expression of my own feeling for this coast region; its epic quality, its grandeur, its natural beauty.”

Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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