Artwork by Charles William Jefferys,  Tree; House

C.W. Jefferys
Tree; House

two graphites
“Tree” - signed with initials and dated “Sept. 2 - 93” lower left; 5 x 6.75 ins (sight);
“House” - 2.75 x 4.5 ins (sight)
5 x 6.75 ins ( 12.7 x 17.1 cms ) ( largest sight )

Auction Estimate: $700.00$500.00 - $700.00

Price Realized $360.00
Sale date: May 31st 2022

Acquired directly from the family of the artist
Private Collection, Toronto

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Charles William Jefferys
(1869 - 1951) Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour

Born in Rochester, Kent, England, the son of Charles T. Jefferys, a builder and Ellen Kennard. Jefferys grew up in an area surrounded by historical ruins and was a neighbour of the great author Charles Dickens. He left England with his family and they settled in Philadelphia, USA, where they were near relatives; later they moved to Hamilton, Ontario, and finally Toronto around 1880.

Charles attended the Winchester and Dufferin Street School in Toronto and was often called upon to decorate the blackboards for special occasions. His chalk drawings covered such events as “The Landing of Caesar”, “Wolfe at Quebec”, “The Battle of Queenston Heights” and his school books were filled with his own conceptions of events and how places must have looked. His schoolmates would willingly pay him a few pennies to decorate their books. Also destined to become an outstanding Canadian artist was Frederick Brigden, a fellow schoolmate, and their paths were to cross many times throughout their careers.

When Jefferys had finished school, his father got him a job with the Toronto Lithographing Company as an apprentice. There he learned to draw on stone and to design show cards, calendars and even labels on tomato cans. His employer later rented his services to “The Globe” to make sketches of the daily events. About this time (1887) he was taking instruction in drawing with other students (including F.S. Challener) from G.A. Reid who had studied under Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia and Benjamin Constant in Paris. Reid and his wife however, departed for Europe in 1888 so Jefferys, Challener, and other students went over to the Toronto Art Students' League which was newly established. There, Jefferys met Charles MacDonald Manly who taught him the essentials of water colour painting. Other students at the League included David Thomson, J.D. Kelly, William Cruikshank, Robert Holmes and A.H. Howard.

In 1889 he painted and sketched in the Richelieu River country and among other things there did some very fine sketches of old churches which appear in the League Calendar issues. In the fall of 1892, Jefferys went to the United States where he found a job with “The New York Herald”. While there, he contributed an illustration to the first Toronto Art League Calendar in 1893.

His wife, Jean F.M. Adams died in 1900 at their home in New Jersey and not long afterwards, Jefferys returned to Toronto. His wife had been an artist in her own rights and had contributed to issues of the Art League Calendar.

In 1889, Jefferys visited the old city of Quebec with Charles MacDonald Manly. There, he made many sketches in black and white of historical dwellings and locations, even the sailing ships in the harbour. In 1890 he toured the Maritime provinces, making sketches of that area of Canada for “The Globe”. In 1900 he returned to the Richelieu River country and in 1901 was commissioned to illustrate the tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York and travelled across Canada with the news party. It was then that he saw the prairies for the first time, a subject to which he would return again and again for his paintings and drawings.

Jefferys was also active in book illustration and did illustrations for many children's book publications. Jefferys married Clara A.B. West of Winnipeg in 1908. The same year, he helped found the Arts and Letters Club. He made further trips to the prairies and foothills country in 1907 and 1910. Between 1903 and 1916, he continued to do illustrations for various journals, books and publications.

Near the end of the First World War, Jefferys, unable to go overseas, was employed by the Canadian War Records to make pictures of military training in Canada at Petawawa Camp and at Niagara. These studies include lithographs, drawings, water colours, and a large oil (60 x 76 ins) entitled “Polish Army Bathing at Niagara Camp” now in The Canadian War Memorial Collection at the National Gallery of Canada.

In 1921 recognition of him as an historical artist led to his commission by the Ontario Department of Education to illustrate George M. Wrong's “Ontario Public School History of Canada”, published by Ryerson and Musson. In 1927 he did pictures illustrating the history of Canada for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation, published by “The Toronto Star”. In 1929 he completed two large murals and was assisted greatly by F.S. Challener, for Manoir Richelieu at Murray Bay, Quebec.

In 1930 Jefferys wrote and illustrated “Dramatic Episodes in Canada's Story”, a 75-page book published by “The Toronto Star”. In 1930 and 1931 Jefferys created four panels for the Writing Room of the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa, depicting moments in the history of the Ottawa River. While working on the murals, he took ill and had to get away to a warmer climate. He stayed in Jamaica while his friends Frederick Haines and Herbert Palmer, both members of the Royal Canadian Academy, carried on with the work. Jefferys returned and completed the job and brought back a number of watercolour sketches, which were later exhibited at the Mellors Gallery in Toronto. The four panels were removed from the Chateau Laurier in 1962 when alterations to the hotel were made. Three of the murals were saved by the National Capital Commission and National Gallery Conservationist, Nathan Stolow. They were unable to do anything with the fourth panel which was irretrievably damaged.

In 1934 Ryerson Press published “Canada's Past in Pictures”, a 131-page book written and illustrated by Jefferys. He designed in 1937 four large relief panels depicting historical events for the Memorial Arch at Niagara Falls. The work was then executed by Emanuel Hahn. Jefferys, in 1938, was appointed historical consultant for the Dominion Government when they undertook the reconstruction of Champlain's Habitation of Port Royal on the north shore of Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia.

Jefferys retired in 1939 from the Department of Architecture of the University of Toronto, where he had been instructor of drawing and painting since 1912. Throughout the 1940s, Jefferys illustrated for and contributed to various publications.

Following Jefferys' death in 1951 the “Saint John Telegraph-Journal”, in an editorial, wrote these words, “What probably has struck hundreds of thousands of Canadians most forcibly about Mr. Jefferys' work is its realism. He made the history of this land come alive again in the minds of school children and of grown-ups alike. He eschewed any excess of formality and splendour, in vivid contrast with the heavy drama of most great historical paintings, to leave us and our posterity with the feeling that Canadian pioneers were not so much demi-gods and king-makers as plain people full of courage and hope. Canadian history would be much less interesting to contemporary students if the pedestrian prose of our historians had not been relieved by the living art of Mr. Jefferys. Himself an immigrant from England, he enriched this country's heritage by dramatizing it for the nations’ people.”

Just before his death, Jefferys had been working with the Imperial Oil Company in the gathering together of his life's work. He is represented in the public collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario; Toronto City Hall; University of Toronto; National Gallery of Canada; Public Archives of Canada; the Agnes Etherington Art Centre; and elsewhere.

Jefferys was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists; the Royal Canadian Academy; Graphics Arts Club, which became the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts; Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour; Toronto Art Students' League; Arts and Letters Club, Toronto; Canadian Society of Applied Art; Ontario Historical Society; Canadian Authors' Association; Champlain Society; and the Faculty Union, University of Toronto.

Jefferys exhibited many times with the various art societies of which he was a member. During his career, he was awarded the following honours; L.L.D., Queen's University, Kingston, 1931; Honourary Chieftain of the Mohawks of the Grand River Valley and was given the name Ga-Re-Wa-Ga-Yon.

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