Artwork by Franklin Carmichael,  Bracken, Lansing

Franklin Carmichael
Bracken, Lansing

oil on panel
signed and dated 1923 lower right; signed, titled and the Estate stamp on the reverse
10 x 12 ins ( 25.4 x 30.5 cms )

Sold for $69,000.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Family of the artist
By descent to the current Private Collection, Ontario
Small Picture Exhibition by Members of the Ontario Society of Artists, Art Gallery of Toronto, October 20-November 18, 1923, no. 15 (as “Bracken”)
Catharine Mastin, “Franklin Carmichael, October Gold,” The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, 1987, pamphlet, unpaginated
Megan Bice, “Light & Shadow: The Work of Franklin Carmichael,” The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, 1990, page 30
Presently part of the North York area of Toronto, Franklin Carmichael moved to Lansing with his wife in 1919. One of the artist’s many works expertly depicting the landscape of southern Ontario, “Bracken, Lansing” was painted a year later than “October Gold”, the autumn canvas part of the collection of the McMichael Canadian Art collection (and based upon the preparatory oil sketch, “Lansing”, executed by Carmichael in 1921). Sharing similar traits with “Lansing” (1921), this sketch “reflects a fresh and vigorous application of paint in short dabs and longer strokes of paint.”

A showcase of light and detail, Carmichael’s “Bracken, Lansing” has the viewer peer into a wooden area. As we peek through the partial screen of dark green foliage, we are witness to a forest floor which is warmed by the sunlight breaking through the canopy above, activating the varied ginger and emerald tones. The soft hills continue as far as the eye can perceive, the careful placement of the trees creating depth and shadow towards the thickening of the woods into complementary earthen hues.

Megan Bice notes that the initial years of the 1920s were important ones for Carmichael’s progression as an artist, as the painter’s “style and viewpoint matured, and his powers as an observer and interpreter of the landscape strengthened.” Bice identifies the early part of the decade as a “connective stage in transformation of Carmichael’s early style. Although fascinated by the light effects studied by the Impressionists, the artist felt that their work lacked structure. Like his Group of Seven colleagues, he believed that Impressionism dealt ineffectively with the strength and ruggedness of the Canadian terrain.”

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Franklin Carmichael
(1890 - 1945) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA, CSPWC

In 1911 Franklin Carmichael left his hometown of Orillia, Ontario and moved to Toronto so that he might pursue his interest in art at the Central Technical School and the Ontario College of Art. Later, he was employed by the commercial art firm Grip Ltd. and, subsequently, at Rous and Mann. Except for a brief period when he studied art in Belgium, Carmichael worked continuously in the field of commercial art until 1932. Following that time he accepted a position as Head of Graphic Design and Commercial Art at the Ontario College of Art, a position that allowed him to devote more of his time to painting. Georgian Bay, the North Shore of Lake Superior, and the Mattawa region were places around Ontario that Carmichael sketched. In later years the La Cloche Hills area north of Georgian Bay became both a favourite painting location and the site of the family cottage. His La Cloche paintings depict the rolling hills, glistening lakes, and dramatic skies so characteristic of the region.