Artwork by John Geoffrey Caruthers Little,  Une journée de mars, Rue Hibernia, Pointe St. Charles, Montréal

John Little
Une journée de mars, Rue Hibernia, Pointe St. Charles, Montréal

oil on canvas
signed lower right; signed, titled and dated 1975 on the stretcher
24 x 30 ins ( 61 x 76.2 cms )

Auction Estimate: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Price Realized $14,160.00
Sale date: November 20th 2018

Continental Galleries, Montréal
Private Collection, Calgary
Colin S. MacDonald, A Dictionary of Canadian of Canadian Artists, Volume 4, Ottawa, 1967-ongoing
A Montreal native, John Little devoted his artistic practice to capturing the charm and nostalgia of Montreal street scenes. Preserving the city's heritage through his work, the artist focused on the residential streets with attention to capturing the distinct architectural details of Montreal's buildings along with city transportation and rows of parked cars on the street. Often including banks of snow pushed up onto the sidewalks by the snowplough, recently trampled by pedestrians, Little delivers scenes that have an inhabited feel conjuring memories and nostalgia of the everyday symbols of Canadian winters. “Une journée de mars, Rue Hibernia, Pointe St. Charles, Montreal” depicts a street in one of Montreal’s oldest sectors southwest of downtown, the historically working-class neighbourhood of Pointe St. Charles. This painting also includes children playing a pick up game of street hockey, a childhood staple for many Canadians, adding a quaint familiarity and a relatable instance of fun to the work.

Little had a professional history working in his father's architectural firm, Luke and Little, from 1951 as a draftsman for two years. The skills learned working at the firm transferred into his artistic practice to accurately portray the city. During the 1960s and 1970s, Montreal and Quebec City were undergoing mass change with historic buildings being demolished for new constructions and industrial infrastructure as the city grew. Hibernia Street in Pointe St. Charles has become a mixture of historic duplexes from the early 1900s, mid-century apartment buildings as well as brand-new homes, and the neighbourhood has undergone significant transformation and gentrification in recent years. John Little’s nostalgic street scenes, such as this example, serve as reflections of Montreal that have been frozen in time.

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John Geoffrey Caruthers Little
(1928) ARCA

Born in Montreal, P.Q. in 1928. He studied two years at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts under Dr. Arthur Lismer and Goodridge Roberts. Subsequently he went to New York where he attended the Art Students' League under Will Barnet and Frank J. Reilley. It was also there in 1949 that he worked as an assistant to Mr. Ray Bailley on the now defunct comic strip "Bruce Gentry".

Returning to Montreal he became a draughtsman in his father's architectural firm (Luke & Little) in 1951. He married in 1953 and turned exclusively to painting. His street scenes won him wide acclaim. His paintings of old Montreal and Quebec City streets, houses and countryside were exhibited at the Watson Art Galleries.

During a solo exhibition at this gallery in 1957 the Montreal “Gazette” noted, "His vision is clear and his interpretation of his subjects is solid and literal. His buildings are solidly based, bear the marks of age and are recorded with a laudable attention to drawing. The last-mentioned quality apparently presents him no problems. His figures have animation, there is a convincing sense of movement in the crowds and the impression of traffic congestion in narrow streets is capitally conveyed .’’

Dorothy Pfeiffer reviewing his work in 1964 noted, "Those bemoaning the seemingly ruthless demolition of hundreds of Montreal's gracious old-world homes and other buildings, the disappearance in the name of progress of various little private nooks and parks, and the often callous disposal of dignified stone pillars and amusing cornices will gain nostalgic pleasure from John Little's show, for he had dedicated his painting to the preservation of such items for posterity. Yet so spirited and relaxed is his painting technique, that his work can in no manner today be labelled as merely documentary. He paints city streets ankle-deep in slush, where his not-quite-ripe olive green mixture carpets pavements with a mélange resembling Quebec limestone. He peoples his old streets and secluded sylvan sites with groups of today's spirited adults and children. Three important qualities it certainly contains: assurance, individuality and artistic honesty."

He has done covers for “Maclean's Magazine” in which his great sense of humour blends with his artistic abilities to depict Canadians at work and play. He is represented in the National Gallery of Canada, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Sir George Williams University Collection of Art, and many private collections.

John Little became an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1961, and then a full member of the Academy in 1973. He is a highly respected artist, and his works are very much sought-after in today's market for important Canadian art.

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