LOT 009

1913 - 2007

The Beach at Kalamalka Lake
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1962 and on verso signed, titled, dated and inscribed variously and with the Dominion Gallery inventory #C2856 and #C8508
25 x 32 in 63.5 x 81.3 cm

Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Dominion Gallery, Montreal, June 15, 1962
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Townley, Charlottetown
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Sold sale of Fine Canadian Art, Heffel Fine Art Auction House, May 27, 1999, lot 61
Private Collection, Vancouver

“A Study of BC Artists,” CBC Times, vol. 12, no. 2, 1962, page 3
Moncrieff Williamson, Through Canadian Eyes: Trends and Influences in Canadian Art, 1815 - 1965, Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1976, reproduced, unpaginated
Jacques Barbeau, The E.J. Hughes Album: The Paintings, Volume 1, 1932 – 1991, 2011, reproduced page 36
Robert Amos, E.J. Hughes Paints British Columbia, 2019, the 2006 watercolour entitled The Beach at Kalamalka Lake reproduced page 117

Glenbow-Alberta Institute, Calgary, Through Canadian Eyes: Trends and Influences in Canadian Art, 1815 - 1965, September 22 - October 24, 1976, catalogue #177

Traveling from his Shawnigan Lake home to the interior of British Columbia, between 1956 and 1967 E.J. Hughes visited and drew Kamloops Lake, Kootenay Lake, Okanagan Lake, Wasa Lake, Emerald Lake, Vermillion Lake, Williams Lake and Kalamalka Lake.

Kalamalka Lake is on the southern edge of the city of Vernon. Hughes visited this site in 1956, on his first trip to the Interior. Always reluctant to leave home, Hughes had for a long time been working on Vancouver Island subjects. These were based on material he collected when he traveled from Victoria to Courtenay with funds provided by the Emily Carr Scholarship in the summer of 1948. But eight years later, in the spring of 1956, a client of the Dominion Gallery in Montreal who had purchased a Hughes painting traced him to Shawnigan Lake. After a pleasant visit, she suggested that he should get to know the area near Kamloops where she was raised, and she offered him $200 to make a trip there.

Soon after, on May 25, 1956, Hughes wrote to Max Stern at the Dominion Gallery, who had contracted to buy all that the artist produced. Hughes announced that he was leaving “next week on a three weeks sketching trip to the interior of B.C. around Kamloops, kindly financed by Mrs. Norton of West Vancouver. It should result in some sketches which may make some variety in the landscape of my paintings.”

Mrs. Norton offered the use of her station wagon, but Hughes did not have a driver’s licence. Traveling by train, he got off at Ashcroft, drew the scenery there, and then took a bus to Vernon. Always interested in water scenes, he visited the popular public beach at Kalamalka Lake. The artist was intrigued to learn that Kalamalka means “many colours.” After his stop at Vernon, he traveled back to Chase and Kamloops, on the South Thompson River, and then returned home.

His first oil of Kalamalka Lake was ready to send to the Dominion Gallery on August 16, 1957. That oil painting, measuring 25 x 32 inches, brought him a cheque for $130. Feeling he could do more with the image, in 1962, Hughes again interpreted Kalamalka Lake and this time reconsidered his composition. The sandy foreground was simplified, and a sporty outboard runabout pulled up at the water’s edge became a focal point. The red and white of the boat is set against the blue water, its hull rendered with strong symmetry. At the time, Hughes himself owned a small runabout with a 25 hp outboard engine at his home at Shawnigan Lake. Thus his interest in the Kalamalka pleasure craft is somewhat personal.

Behind the red and white boat, Hughes defined the surface of the lake, describing with uncanny ease where the calm water is met by wind. Hughes painted every part of the landscape, from the sand at our feet to the most distant cobalt blue mountains, with a patient attention that never wavered. Arcing across the middle distance, the roadbed for a new highway slices across the hillside west of the lake. Highway construction was a major occurrence in Canadian life at this time.

The Beach at Kalamalka Lake (1962) was reproduced in a catalogue accompanying Through Canadian Eyes, a survey of Canadian historical paintings shown at the Glenbow-Alberta Institute in Calgary in 1976. And in 2006, the artist again took up the subject as a watercolour. It was to be his penultimate painting. This subject held the artist’s attention for more than half a century.

We thank Robert Amos, artist and writer from Victoria, BC, for contributing the above essay. Amos is the official biographer of Hughes and has so far published three books on his work. Building on the archives of Hughes’s friend Pat Salmon, Amos is at work on a catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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