Artwork by Charlotte Mount Brock Schreiber,  Edith Schreiber with her Sleigh

Charlotte Schreiber
Edith Schreiber with her Sleigh

oil on board
signed lower left
12.25 x 9.25 ins ( 31.1 x 23.5 cms )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$10,000.00 - $15,000.00

Price Realized $138,000.00
Sale date: December 1st 2022

G. Blair Laing Limited, Toronto
Private Collection
“Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven”, Vancouver Art Gallery; travelling to the Glenbow Museum, Calgary; Art Gallery of Hamilton, 30 October 2015‒25 September 2016
“Canadian Art: A Child’s World”, Annual Loan Exhibition, Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Montreal, 28 October‒11 November 2017, no. 21
“Our Children: Reflections of Childhood in Historical Canadian Art”, Varley Art Gallery, Markham, Ontario, 13 April‒23 June 2019, as “Anticipating Winter Fun” circa 1876
A.K. Prakash, “Independent Spirits Early Canadian Women Artists”, Richmond Hill, 2008, reproduced page 320 (“Don't Be Afraid/ Springfield on the Credit” also reproduced on page 39)
Joan Barrett and Gail Crawford, ‘Charlotte Brock Schreiber (1834‒1922)’, in “Extraordinary Lives: Inspiring Women of Peel”, Mississauga, 2012, pages 22‒27
Tobi Bruce, ‘Revisiting Charlotte Schreiber’, in Ian Thom, et al., “Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven”, Vancouver/London, 2015, pages 36‒41, 203, reproduced page 40
Cynthia Cooper, “‘A Typical Canadian Outfit’: The Red River Coat,” in Beverly Lemire, Laura Peers and Anne Whitelaw, eds., “Object Lives and Global Histories in Northern North America Material Culture in Motion circa 1780‒1980”, Montreal, 2021, pages 82‒107
In July 1876 the Ontario Society of Artists inaugurated its new Toronto premises on King Street West, and, as the society’s chronicler, Robert Gagen, wrote in an “Ontario Art Chronicle” (1922), “The oil paintings by Mrs. Schreiber were the outstanding features… [T]hey were figure subjects, nicely handled in the style of many to be seen at the Royal Academy Exhibitions … The titles were “Two’s company, three’s none,” “Goldilocks,” “Caesar and Rough,” and others with poetry attached.”

Charlotte Schreiber had only been in Canada for a few months before her exhibiting debut. Born in England, Charlotte Mount Brock Morrell had studied in London, worked briefly with John Rogers Herbert, R.A., a Nazarene-influenced painter of historical and religious subjects, and from 1855 she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. In 1875, at the age of forty-one, she married her cousin Weymouth George Schreiber and came to Toronto.

Charlotte Schreiber was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in February 1876 and taught at the Ontario School of Art from 1877. She was appointed a charter member (the only woman) of the newly established Canadian Academy of the Arts in 1880 (Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts from the summer of 1880) and submitted as her Diploma Work, “The Croppy Boy. The Confession of an Irish Patriot” (National Gallery of Canada acc. no. 118). Characteristically, a poem narrating the depicted incident accompanied the painting.

If Schreiber became well known for her large paintings illustrating historical and literary figures, her production also included portraits, as well as animal studies and genre paintings as seen in her exhibition record and in the list of her works shown at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition in 1897. In the 1878 Ontario Society exhibition Schreiber exhibited a painting titled “Don’t Be Afraid” which Tobi Bruce has identified as the well-known painting previously titled “Sleighing Scene, Springfield on the Credit” (Private Collection).

Schreiber moved back to England following her husband’s death in 1898 but many of her paintings returned to the extended Schreiber family back in Canada. Howard G. Schreiber catalogued the paintings with the family for a retrospective exhibition organized at Erindale College at the University of Toronto in 1967. It was Howard Schreiber, possibly based on family tradition, who identified “Sleighing Scene” as a group portrait of the artist’s step-children, Harrie, Edith and Delisle Schreiber, and the setting as Springfield on the Credit (present day Erindale, Mississauga, where the Schreibers eventually built three homes). He dated the painting 1875, the year Schreiber arrived in Canada. Yet the three children of Weymouth Schreiber were born respectively, in 1861, 1857 and 1858.

If the three children appear to be somewhat younger than the Schreiber children would have been in the winter of 1877-1878, the child depicted in the painting titled “Edith Schreiber with her Sleigh” appears even younger. Edith Schreiber was born in 1857 and would have been about twenty years old in 1878. If the identification of the subject must be questioned, the painting is clearly related to “Don’t Be Afraid” and was painted in Canada, not England. In her excellent essay, Cynthia Cooper quotes a passage from Mary Peate’s memoirs “Girl in a Red River Coat”. “As soon as the cold weather set in, my mother got out my Red River coat … They were made of navy blue melton with red flannel lining, red trimmed epaulets, a narrow red stripe down the side seams and a navy blue Capuchin hood, lined with red. With the coat we wore red leggings, red mitts, and a red sash and toque, which lent the costume a dashing habitant air.” The commercially made Red River coat was popular children’s wear by the 1860s, becoming almost a national signifier. Here the young child stands in the winter landscape, her sleigh at her feet, holding a bunch of red berries. It is no longer a genre scene but an affectionate portrait of Canadian childhood.

We extend our thanks to Charles Hill, Canadian art historian, former Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada and author of “The Group of Seven‒Art for a Nation”, for his assistance in researching this artwork and for contributing the preceding essay.

Charlotte Schreiber achieved a new auction record in the Live Auction of An Important Private Collection of Canadian Art on December 1st, 2022 when “Edith Schreiber with her Sleigh” soared to $138,000.

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Charlotte Mount Brock Schreiber
(1834 - 1922)