Artwork by Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith,  Logging Camp, British Columbia

F.M. Bell-Smith
Logging Camp, British Columbia

oil on canvas
signed lower right
27 x 40 ins ( 68.6 x 101.6 cms )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$12,000.00 - $15,000.00

Price Realized $11,500.00
Sale date: November 23rd 2017

Provenance:
Estate of the artist
Private Collection, Ontario
Having served in teaching posts in Toronto and London, Ontario, after having worked as a photography retoucher and freelance illustrator in Montreal and Hamilton, Frederic M. Bell-Smith took advantage of the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1887 onward and travelled to western Canada. Enamoured by the majesty of the Rockies, the artist found inspiration in the distinct landscape and returned throughout the remainder of his life to render the vista in watercolour and oil paintings. Punctuated with jewel tones of aquamarine and emerald, Bell-Smith captures the lush terrain of the West Coast in “Logging Camp, British Columbia”. With a complex, layered high horizon, the viewer is placed within the landscape at the base of the mountain range, and can imagine breathing in the crisp fresh air near the clear body of water amidst the logging camp. Both sublime and calming, this landscape typifies the beauty of peaceful solitude in Canada's West Coast.

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Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith
(1846 - 1923) OSA RCA

Born in London, England, his father was John Bell-Smith a portrait and miniature painter. He studied in London at the South Kensington Art Schools, and in Paris under Courtois, Dupain, and T.A. Harrison. He arrived in Montreal in 1866 and worked for a time as a photographer. Active in art circles he was associated with his father in the founding of the Society of Canadian Artists in 1867 along with W.L. Fraser, Otto R. Jacobi, Henry Sandham and A. Vogt. He lived mainly in Montreal until 1871 when he married and established residence at Hamilton (1871 and 1879-81). He was active in Southern Ontario as an art teacher in public schools at London, (1881-8); Art Director of Alma College, St. Thomas, Ontario, (1881-90) and Director at the Toronto Art School in 1889.

His style falls somewhere between mid Victorian and the modern movements of freer expression. Dr. Hubbard notes how Bell-Smith’s canvas “Lights of A City Street”reveals his conservative inclination of “sober brownish style” and E.F.B. Johnston on the other hand spoke of his brilliant colour and freedom of treatment. The artist chose this conservative style perhaps more for historical scenes. He painted figures, portraits, cityscapes, seascapes, beach scenes, and mountain scenes and most of his work was done in oils or watercolours. Paul Duval tells of how he sold his water colours in quantity at the market place, especially his meticulously done street scenes. He traveled to Western Canada and painted a number of water colours and oils of the Rocky Mountains.

He also went to England to do a series of pictures on the Death of Sir John Thomson who died at Windsor Castle minutes after being sworn in, by Queen Victoria, as a member of the Privy Council of Canada. While at Windsor Castle he did several canvases of the Queen and two of these are in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. In 1896 he studied at the Académie Colarossi in Paris and returned to Alma College Canada in 1897 to resume his duties as art director until 1910. He was an active as an illustrator and contributed to a series of pictures for the book “Picturesque Canada” which contained prose by George Monro Grant and illustrations by more than a score of American and Canadian artists. It was first published about 1882. He was elected Associate Member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880 and Member in 1886; Member, Ontario Society of Artists (1872). He died in Toronto, Ontario.

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