Artwork by Arthur Lismer,  Tumbled Rocks, Georgian Bay

Arthur Lismer
Tumbled Rocks, Georgian Bay

oil on board
signed and dated 1946 lower centre; signed, titled and dated 1946 on a label on the reverse
12 x 16 ins ( 30.5 x 40.6 cms )

Sold for $20,700.00
Sale date: November 25th 2015

Canadian Fine Arts, Toronto
Private Collection, Ontario
Peter Mellen, “The Group of Seven”, Toronto/Montreal, 1981, pages 124, 128 and 134
One of the first and favourite sketching grounds for Lismer and the Group of Seven was Ontario's Georgian Bay. “Many of the island and headlands were nothing more than bare rocks with a few weather-beaten trees clinging to them... In this harsh terrain they could live up to their image as intrepid outdoorsmen, exploring the wild northland while braving the rigours of its climate.” By 1946, Canada had a newfound sense of confidence because of the role it played in several significant victories during WWII. Lismer was an official wartime artist, and undoubtedly approached the rugged Canadian terrain with a reawakened perspective after the war.

In “Tumbled Rocks”, Lismer uses rich earthy tones with thickly layered paint to capture the ruggedness of the typical Georgian Bay landscape. While the rocks dominate the canvas, the shoreline is visible in the bottom right side of the painting and the deep blue skyline appears at the very top through the leaning trunks of trees. Moss and vegetation grow in tufts, patches and winding tendrils in the crevices between rocks and climbing the trees. Mellen writes that “Lismer's fascination with Georgian Bay goes back to his first 1913.” The painter would return for years after to perfect his style, producing some of his most celebrated artworks.

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Arthur Lismer
(1885 - 1969) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA

Arthur Lismer was born in Sheffield, England in 1885. He apprenticed there as an engraver for seven years. During his apprenticeship, at the age of 15, he became an illustrator for the Sheffield Independent. He studied at the Sheffield School of Art (1898 - 1905) and in Belgium at the Antwerp Academy (1906-07). Lismer came to Canada in 1911 where he was employed as an engraver at David Smith and Co. in Toronto. He later moved to the Grip company where he met other future members of the Group of Seven. He first visited Georgian Bay in 1913 and in 1914 made the trip again with Tom Thomson. He became one of the founding members of the Group in 1920. Lismer taught at the Ontario College of Art from 1915 and was principal at the Nova Scotia College of Art, Halifax from 1916 to 1919. He returned to Toronto to become vice principal of the Ontario College of Art from 1920 to 1927. He was involved in education at the National Gallery of Canada and later taught at McGill University. He painted landscape in northern Ontario, Nova Scotia, the St. Lawrence, the Gaspe, Newfoundland, and the Rocky Mountains. In his later years he exhibited at the Dominion Gallery.