Artwork by Marion Long,  Bay Street Looking South

Marion Long
Bay Street Looking South

oil on canvas
signed lower right; signed and titled on a label on the reverse
10 x 12 ins ( 25.4 x 30.5 cms )

Auction Estimate: $9,000.00$7,000.00 - $9,000.00

Price Realized $7,200.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2021

Private Collection, Toronto
“Small Picture Exhibition”, Ontario Society of Artists, Toronto, 1947
A. K. Prakash, “Independent Spirits: Early Canadian Women Artists”, Richmond Hill, 2008, reproduced page 143
As early as 1905, Marion Long had begun to search different areas of Toronto for models and subjects for her work. Her interest in painting the city intensified further with her training in New York at the Art Students League. One of her teachers, Robert Henri, encouraged his students to abandon traditional academic subject matter in favour of observing and documenting the everyday world around them. While Long is well-known for her portraits and figure studies, she did take Henri’s advice when she settled in Toronto and opened a studio in 1913; there, she painted many scenes of city life and architecture. Later she moved into Studio One, near the intersection of Yonge and Bloor streets, which had been occupied by A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson. Long eventually relocated into her own studio on Grenville Street but resided at her home on Poplar Plains Road.

“Bay Street Looking South” is one of Marion Long’s classic urban scenes that provide the viewer with a charming glimpse of Toronto from a previous time. A.K. Prakash writes of this oil painting: “Bay Street Looking South is a characteristic work that reveals the aesthetic feeling Long brought to her art. In this small sketch, she evocatively captures Toronto’s Bay Street in the midst of fog. The figures at the left offer a sense of narrative, but one that is as muted and restrained as the colours of the picture.” The subtle yet recognizable silhouette of the Royal York Hotel looms in the distance, enveloped in a fog that fills the atmospheric sky. Prakash praises the artist’s mastery of the strong formal elements in this picture, stating: “Long said that she found the urban street scene rich in values of light and shadow, personality, colouring and background, all qualities found here, combined with her powerful ability to convey location.”

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Marion Long
(1882 - 1970) O.S.A., R.C.A.

Born in Toronto, she attended Model School an St. Margaret’s College then studied at the Ontario College of Art and under G. A. Reid and Laura Muntz; in New York City under Robert Henri and William Chase (1907-9); at Provincetown, Mass., under Charles Hawthorne (1913). She opened a studio in Toronto in 1913 where she painted portraits, figure studies, street scenes and other subjects. Later she moved into Studio One which had been occupied by A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson in the Studio Building built with the support of Lawren S. Harris and Dr. James MacCallum. The studio was available after Jackson returned to Montreal before enlisting in the army and Thomson moved to the shack behind the main building. Later she moved into her own studio on Grenville Street but lived at her home on Poplar Plains Road. In 1922 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy (Associate) and in 1933 she became the second woman to be elected to the Academy as a full Academician. She was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1916), the Ontario Institute of Painters, and she was a member of the Heliconian Club, of which she was the president in 1919.

She was commissioned to paint many well-known Canadian men and women, including a series of seven portraits of men and women of the Canadian armed forces in World War II, now in the John Deutsch University Centre of Queen’s University, Kingston. She was also commissioned to do portraits of the Royal Norwegian Air Force and received the King Haakon VII medal of liberation for services to Norway during World War II. She exhibited twenty-five of these portraits in July of 1942 at Eaton’s Fine Art Galleries, Toronto, Montreal and several other galleries where they were very well received. In 1943 she was commissioned by Imperial Tobacco to paint eleven portraits of sailors and other servicemen for a Players Navy Cut campaign.

She exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists after 1905, and the Royal Canadian Academy after 1905, at the Canadian National Exhibition, the Art Association of Montreal, Wembley, and the National Gallery 1926. She died in 1970 in Toronto at the age of 87. She is represented at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Toronto, Annesley Hall, Queen’s University, Art Gallery of Hamilton and in many private collections.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979