Artwork by Jack Hamilton Bush,  Church at Mattawa (1947)

Jack Bush
Church at Mattawa (1947)

oil on paperboard
signed lower left
8.5 x 11 ins ( 21.6 x 27.9 cms )

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

Price Realized $5,428.00
Sale date: June 23rd 2020

Provenance:
Collection of the Artist
Jack Bush Art Estate
Private Collection, Toronto
Exhibited:
Jack Bush, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, November 13, 2014 – February 22, 2015, no. 24
Literature:
Jack Bush, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2014, reproduced page 119, listed page 247, no. 24 (notes execution date range of “17-23 October 1947”)

“History of the Mattawa General Hospital 1878-1978”, Ladies of the Mattawa Hospital Auxiliary, Mattawa, Ontario, 1978, pages 4-18
Mattawa is located on the banks of the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers, on the foothills of the Laurentians. This area has long been an important region, occupied by The Algonquins in the 17th and 18th centuries, ultimately developing into the bustling town of Mattawa, meaning “Meeting of the Waters”. The Oblate Fathers occupied the area surrounding Mattawa, erecting the first Catholic Church, St. Anne’s, in 1863 and establishing a permanent mission in 1869. It soon became evident that with the growing lumber industry and the Hudson’s Bay Company Trading post, that the population was going to rise, and a hospital would be needed. The Mattawa General Hospital was founded in 1878, a modest structure of five beds, with a small chapel on the first floor for the use of the public. The hospital was initially staffed by the Grey Nuns of the Cross, represented by Sister St. Alexis, Sister Eudoxie and Sister Melanie, who made an arduous multi-day journey to Mattawa. Expansion of the hospital was soon required, with the Oblate Fathers purchasing land along the Ottawa River to keep livestock and grow fruits and vegetables.

As the Mattawa Hospital was the only hospital for hundreds of miles, it was an important facility serving the community and surrounding area. Unfortunately, in 1885 the hospital was burned to the ground just before an expansion was complete. In 1889, the construction of a stone church to replace the current St. Anne’s Catholic Church began with the assembly of the striking twin steeple. In 1901 another fire destroyed the Mattawa Hospital and it took substantial fundraising to establish sufficient finds to rebuild. The new structure was erected as a two-story red-brick building, with the capacity for 52 beds. A fire caused by lightening destroyed the St. Anne’s Catholic Church in 1959, while in 1966 another blaze at the Mattawa General Hospital partly destroyed the building. Again, the community joined together to refurbish the hospital. Recently, in 2010, the hospital was demolished amidst great controversy after a new hospital structure was completed. Jack Bush has captured a historical icon of the Mattawa community in his 1947 painting “Church at Mattawa”, preserving a piece of the legacy of the industrious Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns of the Cross.

We sincerely thank Kim Bush of LoveJack.ca for providing her assistance with this painting.

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Jack Hamilton Bush
(1909 - 1977) Painters Eleven, OSA, ARCA

A founding member of the Painters Eleven group and the subject of major retrospectives at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1976) and the National Gallery of Canada (2014), John Hamilton (Jack) Bush (born March 20, 1909 in Toronto; died January 24, 1977 in Toronto) was one of Canada’s most influential artists. Among the first Canadian painters of his generation to achieve international success in his lifetime, Bush was a masterful draftsman and colourist whose works are coveted by major institutions and private collectors throughout the world. Born in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto in 1909, Bush spent his childhood in London, Ontario, and Montréal, Québec, where he studied at the Royal Canadian Academy and apprenticed as a commercial artist in his father’s business, Rapid Electro Type Company. After relocating in 1928 to work in the firm’s Toronto offices, his interest in fine art grew through contact with members of the Group of Seven, the Ontario Society of Artists, and the Canadian Group of Painters. Working as a commercial artist by day, Bush painted and took night classes at the Ontario College of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design University) throughout the 1930s, studying under Frederick Challener, John Alfsen, George Pepper, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Charles Comfort. After forming the commercial design firm Wookey, Bush and Winter in 1942 with partners Leslie Wookey and William Winter, Bush remained engaged in the graphic art world until his retirement in 1968.

Like many of his contemporaries in Toronto, Bush had little exposure to international trends of modernism during his formative years as a painter. For nearly two decades, he drew inspiration for his landscape and figural paintings from works by members of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Group of Painters. Though he began to incorporate non-representational elements in his work in the late 1940s, Bush’s more focused experimentations with formal abstraction in the early 1950s reveal the conspicuous influence of his eventual encounters with modern artwork in Toronto and New York City. In 1953, Bush joined the newly-founded Toronto artist group Painters Eleven. Through his involvement in the group’s efforts to promote abstract painting in Canada, Bush met the influential New York City art critic Clement Greenberg. Their resulting friendship would influence Bush’s early development as an abstract painter, with Greenberg serving as an occasional mentor to the artist, encouraging him to abandon his Abstract Expressionist style in favour of a brighter, more refined palette and technique. Through his association with Painters Eleven, Bush became closely tied to Colour Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction—two movements that had evolved from Abstract Expressionism. After the group disbanded in 1959, Bush’s distinguished career was marked by numerous achievements, including the opportunity to represent Canada at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1967, after which his art found considerable commercial success in the United States (Bush had already been showing his work in New York City since 1962). In 1963, Hugo McPherson in his review of Bush’s showing at the Gallery Moos, Toronto, linked Bush with Matisse as follows, “...he reminds us of the classical joy and simplicity of the later Matisse. This is his richest vein. His comments on France, Italy, and Spain, and his observations titled ‘Red on Pink’ and ‘Growing Plant’ are at once spare and bright and probing.”

In 1972, Bush was the subject of the inaugural survey exhibition in the modern wing of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Four years later, the Art Gallery of Ontario organized a major touring retrospective of his work. Bush as a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, 1942 (former President); Ontario Society of Artists (former Vice-President) 1943; Associate Royal Canadian Academician, 1946; Canadian Group of Painters’, 1948, and the Art Directors’ Club of Toronto. In 2014, the National Gallery of Canada hosted a major retrospective exhibition of Jack Bush’s work. A comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Bush’s work is set to be released in the coming years.

Jack Bush died at the age of 68 in 1977, one year after he received the honour of Officer of the Order of Canada.