LOT 110

1882 - 1974

La Malbaie, Quebec
oil on canvas
signed and on verso titled on the gallery labels and inscribed with the Dominion Gallery inventory #C4882, and with an Arthur Lénars shipping label
20 x 25 in 50.8 x 63.5 cm

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000

Preview at: Heffel Vancouver

Dr. S.D. Brigel, Quebec
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Acquired from the above by Eugene Milner, Montreal, 1971
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal
Winchester Galleries, Victoria
Collection of Laurie Guthrie, Edmonton

A.Y. Jackson, A Painter’s Country: The Autobiography of A.Y. Jackson, 1958, page 64
A.Y. Jackson Retrospective Exhibition, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., 1990, listed, unpaginated
Wayne Larsen, A.Y. Jackson: The Life of a Landscape Painter, 2009, page 115

Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal, A.Y. Jackson Retrospective Exhibition, September 10 - 22, 1990, catalogue #27

Starting in 1921, in late winter A.Y. Jackson traveled the “artist trails” on the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence River, painting small Quebec villages and rural farms. These trips, which occurred most years until the mid-1930s, yielded some of the most iconic images of his oeuvre. On the North Shore, the “trail” led from Baie-Saint-Paul, with Jackson passing through small towns once only accessible by boat, such as Les Éboulements, Saint-Irénée and La Malbaie. In these villages, life was peaceful and simple.

In his autobiography, Jackson noted: “For several seasons, Robinson, Holgate, Hewton and I worked in the late winter at La Malbaie. It was a charming little town, and Robinson did some of his best work here. Later the fine old parish church there was burned down, and a post office and other buildings erected that spoiled it for the artists.” Jackson enjoyed the companionship of his artist friends, for it could be dull otherwise in the small towns at night due to lack of activity. In 1926, he was in La Malbaie with Albert Robinson, who was particularly lively – fun-loving, he provoked laughter and music with his storytelling and dancing with the women in the houses and small hotels where they stayed.

La Malbaie, Quebec, which is based on an on-the-spot oil sketch executed circa 1932 to 1933, depicts a fine sunny winter’s day in the town, with its typical activities – a woman stands in the doorway with a shovel, and an iconic horse and sleigh glides down the snow-covered pathway. In 1921, Jackson first included a horse and sleigh in two well-known canvases, A Quebec Village (collection of the National Gallery of Canada) and Winter Road, Quebec. Wayne Larsen wrote: “From this point forward, Jackson would often include a sleigh in his Quebec landscapes. This was not only a deliberate attempt to enhance the rustic atmosphere he was trying to evoke, but also a subtle way of expressing his contempt for the creeping modernization of remote villages. By 1921 automobiles were rapidly replacing the horse-drawn sleigh in rural Quebec, and before long the tranquility would be shattered even further by snowmobiles roaring across fields.”

This is an exceptionally richly coloured work. In the houses, shades of green, yellow, taupe and brown are brightened by the creamy orange house and the bright golden green in the centre and the red roof in the foreground. Details such as the daubs of bright red in the cap of the person in the sleigh and the bright green of a plant in the window are charming. The brilliant light of a sunny winter’s day is crisp and uplifting, reflecting off the white snow on rooftops and the ground, where it is crossed by intensely blue shadows. Jackson was a masterful colourist – the sky is not a flat blue, but is a succession of layers of different hues, from dark blue to turquoise and pale blue. His snow is full of pale pastels, varying from rooftop to rooftop, with tones of yellow, blue, pink and mauve.

La Malbaie, Quebec is a finely balanced composition, anchored by the solid structure of the church, whose double spires pierce both the mountains behind and the sky, symbolic of the importance of religion in these small towns. By opening up space in the lower part of the canvas between the two fences, Jackson presents the town as if it is a stage set, and the people going about their quotidian activities the players in the life of the town. La Malbaie, Quebec is an exceptional canvas with all the desirable elements of a great Quebec work, and its emotional warmth evinces Jackson’s deep affection for and understanding of his home province.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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