Artwork by John William Beatty,  The Blacksmith’s, Kearney, Ont.

J.W. Beatty
The Blacksmith’s, Kearney, Ont.

oil on board
signed lower right; titled on the artist’s label on the reverse
10.5 x 13.75 ins ( 26.7 x 34.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $5,000.00$3,000.00 - $5,000.00

Price Realized $5,782.00
Sale date: June 2nd 2020

Private Collection, Ontario
Dorothy M. Farr, “J.W. Beatty 1869-1941”, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, 1981, pages 15, 22-24
J.W. Beatty is known for conveying in his paintings the great beauty he found in his native Ontario landscape. In 1890 the trajectory of Beatty’s life transitioned away from his position as a firefighter and he began to focus on his artistic practice. Beatty married Caroline Cornock and began taking art classes, enrolling in Galbraith’s Academy where his teacher was the respected F.M. Bell-Smith. This change in course had a profound effect on his life, and that of his wife. As Dorothy M. Farr remarks, “It would seem that Caroline Beatty, although largely undocumented, became the disciplining force behind her husband’s talents and ambitions and that she, and not Beatty himself, was responsible for the metamorphosis of Billy Beatty the wild Irish fireman, to J.W. Beatty, Canadian artist.”

Beatty went on to study at the Académie Julian in Paris where so many other Canadian art legends received instruction. Upon returning to Canada, Beatty began to embrace the nationalistic pride manifesting in the artistic community of Toronto. He surrounded himself with like-minded individuals at the Arts and Letters Club, “a whole crowd of young men beginning to make their mark in the world of paint, pen and pencil.” Beatty painted alongside A.Y. Jackson in the Rockies, Tom Thomson in Algonquin Park, and occupied a studio in the Studio Building in 1914, shortly after it had been built. Landscapes such as “The Blacksmith’s, Kearney, Ont.” embody the prevailing spirit of the Group of Seven with its reverence for glorious subjects in nature.

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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