ALC BCSFA CGP FCA G7 OSA RPS TPG
1885 - 1970
Ocean Falls, BC
tempera on paper on canvas
dated circa 1945 on a brass plaque
19 1/2 x 25 1/8 in, 49.5 x 63.8 cm
Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000 CAD
Sold for: $79,250
Preview at: Heffel Montreal
Sotheby's Canada, November 8, 1988, lot 219
Private Estate, Montreal
Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, Ten Pulp and Paper Paintings, 1948, the related print West Coast Mill listed and reproduced page 14
Ian Sigvaldason and Scott Steedman, Art for War and Peace: How a Great Public Art Project Helped Canada Discover Itself, 2015, the related print West Coast Mill reproduced page 105
Lawren Harris moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1940, but despite living there for the next 30 years, he produced surprisingly few landscape works depicting the surrounding coastal landscape. With his focus primarily on abstraction from the mid-1930s onward, when he did revisit landscape paintings, the majority were based on sketches from the 1920s instead of new subjects. This work represents an extremely rare depiction by the artist of the West Coast, and gives an important insight into how the geography of this part of Canada, dramatically distinct from other regions, was interpreted by the artist.
The origin of this work, which deviates from Harris’s usual paintings, is a commission by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, who in the mid-1940s, partnered with Sampson-Matthews Limited to create a series of silkscreen prints celebrating the industry. The first group of the Pulp and Paper series consisted of ten prints, and expanded the Sampson-Matthews silkscreen print program, which had started during World War II in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, initiated by A.Y. Jackson, and overseen by A.J. Casson. Over the course of the entire public art program, Harris contributed five designs, with West Coast Mill being the only original – the other four were based on pre-existing canvases. This work, Ocean Falls, BC, is the original tempera painting upon which West Coast Mill was based, and it was created specifically for the Pulp and Paper series. The process of silkscreen printing, in which inks are laid down one colour at a time, creates novel challenges for designs - the most significant being the need to rely on flat colour, with an inability to blend colours or use gradients. Harris, an artist who was always open to experimentation, enthusiastically embraced these parameters in his design, deftly utilizing a restricted palette and broken, flat colour patterns to depict the scene.
The subject for this painting is the view up Cousins Inlet along the central coast of BC, looking at the town and mill of Ocean Falls. As with much of his work from the Rockies, Harris has taken liberties with the scene, exaggerating the landscape forms to better correspond to the awesome impression created by the massive and rugged coastal mountains. While the work was commissioned to celebrate one of Canada’s largest industries, the relatively diminutive size of the settlement in the composition demonstrates Harris’s view that the scale of human endeavour is best contextualized within the grandeur of the landscape that it is a part of.
We thank Alec Blair, Director/Lead Researcher, Lawren S. Harris Inventory Project, for contributing the above essay.
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our
Terms and Conditions of Business. Bidders must ensure they have satisfied themselves with the
condition of the Lot prior to bidding. Condition reports are available upon request.