Artwork by Frederick Henry Brigden,  Lake in the Hills

Fred Brigden
Lake in the Hills

oil on canvas
signed lower right
26.5 x 33 ins ( 67.3 x 83.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $7,000.00$5,000.00 - $7,000.00

Price Realized $5,750.00
Sale date: June 1st 2016

Private Collection, Toronto
Royal Canadian Academy (date unknown)
Sublime in nature with a high perspective overlooking the lake below, Brigden situates the viewer as part of the hillside, peering down at the landscape. Influenced by British watercolourists, the artist depicted landscapes in a naturalistic and realistic style rather than the expressive and looser styles of Canadian painters of the early twentieth century. With layered hills receding into the fading horizon, Brigden captures the lushness of the Canadian landscape, instilling peace and calm.

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Frederick Henry Brigden
(1871 - 1956) OSA, RCA, CSPWC

Born in London, England, he arrived in Canada with his parents when he was eight months old. They settled in Toronto, Ontario, where his father went into partnership with the Beale Brothers to create the Toronto Engraving Company. Showing a special talent as a boy he received encouragement from his father. His first outdoor sketch of the Winchester Street Bridge in Toronto displayed his remarkable maturity at the age of 12. His father allowed him to study at the Toronto Art Student’s League under William Cruikshank and G. A. Reid.

About 1892 his illustrations appeared in the Toronto Art Student’s League Calendar. He also attended the Mahlstick Club where a gathering of artists included Robert Holmes, T. W. McLean, J. E. H. MacDonald, Neil McKechnie, A. H. Robson, W. W. Alexander and others. Brigden received most of his training in Toronto with the exception of a summer at John Carlson’s School in the Catskills in 1910. Weekends and evenings he went painting with C. M. Manly from 1894 to 1906 and he made many trips with him to Eastern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes during the summer holidays.

Brigden painted traditional English watercolour subjects until about 1906 when he made his first trip to the north country, where, in the words of J. E. Middleton “ . . . The general scene was big, swimming in air so clear that even far-off lines were definitive and distant colours vivid . . .” He visited galleries in London, Manchester and Brussels in 1910, and Buffalo, New York in 1912 where he saw an exhibition of Scandinavian artists, the same exhibition which J. E. H. MacDonald and Lawren Harris had seen. Scandinavian influence showed itself in his Walker Lake canvas which was a considerable departure from his traditional manner. His paintings did not, however take on the same dedication to decorative realism as had the work of Harris and MacDonald. In 1940 Liddell Franks in the Windsor Daily Star explained this aspect as follows “. . . Brigden himself did not come under the influence of the Group for he held to his belief that he should continue to paint nature more realistically and to depict its more atmospheric aspects . . .” Bridgen was still very much interested in English watercolourists for in 1924 on a business trip to England he carefully examined a portfolio of original watercolours of John Sell Cotman, an experience he regarded as being of lasting benefit to him.

Brigden travelled to many parts of Canada including the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Lake Louise and Outpost Lake in the Rockies, Northern Manitoba, Ontario, particularly along the shores of Lake Superior down the Montreal River where J. E. H. MacDonald painted his famous canvas “Falls Montreal River”; the Haliburton region, the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and throughout the Maritimes including the beautiful Cape Breton Island.

Brigden joined the O.S.A. in 1898 and the R.C.A. in 1939. He sketched with C. W. Jefferys and many other celebrated Canadian artists. Brigden is represented in the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. He died on a sketching trip at Bolton, Ontario in 1956.

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