Lot 49

PLOUGHING, BRITTANY, oil on panel, stamped with the studio stamp on the reverse,
9.25" x 12.99"
23.50 x 33.00

Est. $25000/30000
Realised: Please contact us for the value of this item
Auction Date: 05/30/2016

Provenance: Canadian Fine Arts, Toronto Private Collection, Toronto

Note: James Wilson Morrice was one of the few Canadian painters of his generation to achieve international recognition. Born into an affluent family in Montreal, Morrice studied law in Toronto, but soon after being called to the bar in 1889, he left Canada to pursue his interest in painting, arriving in Paris in 1891. Although he would return to Canada periodically to visit his parents until 1914, Paris became Morrice’s home and it was there that he met many international artists (Henri, Whistler, Matisse, et. al.) whose work would influence his own. He was an inveterate traveller and exhibited widely, sending work to the French Salon d’Automne (1905-13), the Société Nouvelle (1908-13) and exhibitions in Britain, the United States and Canada. He made several trips to Brittany, located in the north-west region of the country. It was already a favourite destination for artists, including the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), who sought an authentic form of representation in more remote places considered free of the corrupting influences of industrialism and capitalism. Morrice was no doubt drawn to the effects of light and colour in the region. Morrice spent the summers of 1906 and 1907 in Brittany, travelling between Le Pouldu and Concarneau, and visited again in the spring and autumn of 1909 and spring of 1910. In Ploughing, Brittany, Morrice is clearly responding to Post-Impressionism in the decorative patchwork of fields. The underlying structure of the composition, roughly delineated in pencil, shows through in areas such as the band of trees along the horizon and around individual patches of green. Morrice has applied the paint loosely and broadly, making few concessions to detail. His interest in the effects of light is evident in the shadow cast on the ploughed earth in the foreground by a passing cloud. Morrice was known as a consummate colourist. The palette of Ploughing, Brittany consists of closely related colour values, with darker tones (the horse, patch of green in the middle ground, and line of trees on the horizon) providing contrast. As the final touch, Morrice has placed a daub of dusty pink against a green shrub to signify the farmer’s shirt, which is echoed in a lower note in the horse’s yoke. A small detail, it heightens the visual impact of the scene.

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