Artwork by John William Beatty,  Baie St. Paul

J.W. Beatty
Baie St. Paul

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1929 lower left
18 x 22 ins ( 45.7 x 55.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $30,000.00$25,000.00 - $30,000.00

Price Realized $32,200.00
Sale date: November 25th 2015

Private Collection, Toronto
Dorothy Hoover, “J.W. Beatty”, Toronto, 1947, pages
Dorothy M. Farr, “J.W. Beatty: 1869-1941”, Kingston, 1981, page 35
As a teacher, Dorothy Farr described J.W. Beatty's landscape instruction as providing his sometimes challenging vision to his students, aspects of which are evident in much of his work, including “Baie St. Paul”, the traditionalist teaching “sound technique” and seeking to “sharpen the visual perceptions of his students.” Encouraging his students to be “sensitive to their perceptions of light”, Beatty told them “There is no black in nature, only a mixture of colours,” the artist going as far as to remove a black tube of paint from a student's box if it was discovered.

While likely difficult to some under his tutelage, Beatty's lessons speaks to the painter's vision and technique. “Baie St. Paul” acts as a firm example of his mastery of depicting the behaviour of light through the employment an extended gradient of colour, with no shade of colour clearly repeated in multiple areas of the scene. As soft blue shadows crawl across the packed snow of the foreground, they are bordered with dark pinks which dissolve into lighter and varied grades of the pigment throughout the lower half of the composition. The snow acts as its own canvas, as light and shadow interplay harmoniously. Beneath a pale blue sky, rolling hills of alternate blues, mauves and crimson are accented with strokes of green and red. A frozen turquoise pool provides yet another shade of blue at the base of the ridge at the left edge. At the centre, the two cottages sit behind a partial screen of thin trees, the winter leaving the branches bare and providing a clear view of the homestead. The buildings are treated to differing levels of light and shadow from all sides, their yellows beaming a shade of canary when reflecting direct light from behind, the gradient sliding to a reddish brown when in full shadow. As the snow fights to hold to the roofs, we see that Beatty manages to avoid black even here, the tops of the houses painted in deep navy blues, reflecting rather than absorbing light. Beatty's incredibly interplay of light, shadow and colour provides a scene of both warmth and frigidity, the perceived unforgiving elements of the scene secondary to the glow from the high sun on this winter day.

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John William Beatty
(1869 - 1941) OSA RCA

J.W. Beatty’s early art training came from his father, a sign and house painter who passed along his knowledge of graphics. He left school early and found work at a local engraving firm. While still a teenager he joined the 10th Grenadiers as a bugler and served in this capacity in the Northwest Rebellion. Following his military service, he married and joined Toronto's newly formed Fire Department. He had not lost sight of his childhood dream to become an artist, and used his spare time at the fire hall to paint portraits of his fellow firemen and to do still life paintings. In his spare time he studied under William Cruikshank, F. M. Bell-Smith and G. A. Reid. He also sought out formal training from professional artists in the after hours. When he had saved enough money, he and his wife sailed for Paris where he planned to study at the Academie Julian.

At the Academie, he studied under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant and earned several awards for his figure drawing. After returning to Toronto in 1901, he opened a studio and began to teach at the Ontario School of Art and Design. He attended classes at the Mahlstick Club and became a founding member of the Graphic Arts Club. He then returned to Europe in 1906-9 where he continued studies at the Academie Julian and the Colarossi Academy. After further studies in London, and travelled around Europe to Holland, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The Barbizon School, based on the atmospheric paintings of John Constable, was a powerful influence all around Europe, and had its affect on Beatty as well.

He returned to Toronto in 1909 and continued painting and teaching classes. His early landscapes were grey and sombre, characteristic of French and Dutch painting of the traditional school. He was among the innovative Toronto artists who travelled to Northern Ontario to sketch via canoe. Starting in 1912 he went on regular sketching trips with Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald and A.Y. Jackson. He one of the first painters to be offered a studio in the famed Studio Building, in Toronto’s Rosedale Valley Ravine. He and Jackson were both awarded a commission by the Canadian Northern Railway to paint in and around the construction camps as the railway was laid through the rocky mountains.

After 1910 he went north to sketch first alone and then with Tom Thompson. His colours became brighter probably through the association with the artists who were to become members of the Group of Seven and also the association with Tom Thomson. Beatty carved the stonework for the memorial cairn erected to his friend, Tom Thomson, at Canoe Lake. He was appointed an official war artist this same year and went overseas. A teacher at the Ontario Collage of Art in 1913 he returned there after the ware where he remained until his death. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, the Ontario Society of Artists, and served as president of the Arts and Letters Club. His works are in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Collection, Hart House at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University Art Centre, the Canadian War Museum and elsewhere.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977