Artwork by Thomas de Vany Forrestall,  The Falling Lamp, 1969

Tom Forrestall
The Falling Lamp, 1969

egg tempera on panel
signed lower right
31.5 x 48 ins ( 80 x 121.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$8,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $7,475.00
Sale date: May 28th 2015

The Collection of the Artist
Private Collection, British Columbia
“Tom Forrestall: Shapes of the Paintings Interest Me as Integral Part of the Work”, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, July 13 - August 31, 1971, travelling to the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; the University of Alberta, Edmonton; the Art Gallery of Windsor; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, no. 21
“Tom Forrestall”, Canadian Consulate, Paris, France, November 16 - 26, 1972, no. 16
“Tom Forrestall: Shapes of the Paintings Interest Me as an Integral Part of the Work”, exhibition catalogue, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, page 9, reproduced page 21

The 1971 exhibition catalogue for “Shapes of the Paintings Interest Me as Integral Part of the Work” refers to “The Falling Lamp” (which was featured in the exhibition's seven stops across Canada during 1971 and 1972) as being “closely related to the concept articulated in early definitions of Magic Realism. Thirty years ago the term Magic Realism was 'applied to the work of painters who by means of an exact realistic technique try to make plausible and convincing their improbable, dreamlike or fantastic visions' (Alfred H. Barr Jr., Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1942). The railway passes near the Forrestall house in Fredericton and vibration caused by it made an old kerosene lamp tumble from a shelf high in the studio one day: ‘The Falling Lamp’ derives from the experience. A substitute similar to the shattered lamp was wired in mid-air for study and the artist's daughter Monica posed for the figure. Several elements contribute to the fantastic quality in addition to the arrested motion of the closely observed object: the abstraction of the composition with its widely separated components, the unusual viewpoint directly overhead, the inverted scale relationships (exceptionally in such work, the lamp is larger than life), and the T-shaped format which opposes the vertical decent of the lamp to the horizontal plane of the floor.”

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Thomas de Vany Forrestall
(1936) ARCA

Born in Middleton, Nova Scotia, he grew up there and in Dartmouth. His early interest in art was stimulated by books on art. When his family moved to Dartmouth, he attended Saturday Morning Classes at the NSCA in Halifax. Following high school, he began art studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B. (1954), under Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville, and graduated in 1958 with his B.F.A degree. Under these top Canadian artists, he developed his natural abilities and emerged as a skilful painter who was awaiting an opportunity to develop his ideas. He married fellow student Natalie LeBlanc of Atholville, N.B. Having been a scholarship student, he was awarded a Canada Council grant for study and travel in Europe. When he and Natalie returned to Canada, they settled in Fredericton, where he worked for a year as assistant curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery; then as an editorial cartoonist for the “Fredericton Daily Gleaner”, and designer for UNB Press. One of Forrestall’s patrons, Brigadier Michael Wardell, made it possible for him to buy a converted building, formerly an old bakery. There, he conducted art classes one night a week.

With the income now from his jobs and his teaching, he was able to devote more of his time to painting. It was not long before he adopted the tried and true medium of egg tempera as well as acrylics. By 1963, he was experimenting with panels of shapes other than the traditional rectangle. In 1965, he held his first solo shows at Roberts Gallery, Toronto.

During this period, he painted remarkable scenes which were described by artist and teacher, Dr. Donald C. MacKay as follows, “His paintings, many inspired by the rural tranquility of the Maritimes, frequently reflect nostalgic qualities often inherent in their subjects, yet emphasized so that he shares his intimate experience with the viewer. His preferred medium, egg tempera, is ideally suitable for this expression and the diverse forms of frames are designed to encourage participation and thus enhance this special relationship.”

Forrestall once explained, “Technically, my way of painting is traditional – preliminary studies, rough compositional drawings, then the painting. Egg tempera is an impeccable time-tested formula for permanency and long lasting beauty. With this guarantee, I can rest assured of the stability of the medium. I feel the artist needs all the help he can get or inherit in order to carry out his most difficult job – producing a work of art.”

Literature Source:
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 1: A-F, 5th Edition, Revised and Expanded", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1997