Artwork by James Edward Hervey MacDonald,  Surf, Barbados, B.W.I.

J.E.H. MacDonald
Surf, Barbados, B.W.I.

oil on board
signed with initials lower left; signed, titled and inscribed “Barbados ‘32” on the reverse
8.5 x 10.5 ins ( 21.6 x 26.7 cms )

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

Price Realized $21,600.00
Sale date: December 3rd 2020

Sotheby’s Canada, auction, Toronto, May 12, 1975, lot 89
Yaneff International Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Upon suffering a stroke, J.E.H. MacDonald returned to a favourite vacation spot in Barbados in the British West Indies to recuperate and convalesce. Sailing from Boston with his wife in early February 1932, MacDonald stayed on the tropical island for three months until May 1932, then returning to Toronto for the summer months ahead of his teaching post.

While in Barbados, the artist produced a large body of work including bright seascapes and intimate studies of foliage and flora. On the work produced during this time, Paul Duval writes that “they prove, once again, MacDonald’s ability to quickly adjust to a new landscape environment...In the Barbados, as in Nova Scotia, he luxuriated in the sense of freedom he always found by the sea.” The lush ethereal cloud forms depicted in “Surf, Barbados, B.W.I.” serve as an excellent example of the artist’s apt rendering of the atmosphere in his paintings. This painting closely aligns with the style of his works produced in Nova Scotia, utilizing similar fresh colour palettes of light turquoises and butter yellows, capturing the brightness of the coast.

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James Edward Hervey MacDonald
(1873 - 1932) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA

J.E.H. MacDonald was born in Durham, England in 1873 of Canadian parents. He took evening art classes at the Hamilton Art School as a teenager, before relocating to Toronto. In Toronto, he studied at the Central Ontario School of Art. From 1894, he worked as a graphic designer at Grip Ltd. In 1903, he sailed for England and joined Carlton Studios, a London graphic firm. On his return to Canada in 1907 he rejoined Grip and began to paint the landscape near Toronto. Around this time, Tom Thomson joined the Grip staff. Frank H. Johnston joined a short time later. These artists found that they had much in common and began going on sketching trips as a group. In 1910, he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Canadian Academy. By 1912, all the original members of the Group of Seven had met and were sketching quite regularly together. MacDonald was devastated by the accidental drowning of Tom Thomson in 1917. He designed a brass plaque to Thomson's memory which was mounted to a cairn erected at Canoe Lake. The first official Group of Seven exhibition took place in May of 1920. MacDonald accepted a teaching position at the Ontario College of Art in 1921 and was appointed as principal in 1929. He continued to go on painting trips, but his teaching responsibilities sapped his energies and he did few large canvases during this time. He died in Toronto in 1932.