Artwork by Alexander Young Jackson,  Le Boulanger, Baie-Saint-Paul, circa 1925

A.Y. Jackson
Le Boulanger, Baie-Saint-Paul, circa 1925

oil on canvas
signed lower left
21 x 26 ins ( 53.3 x 66 cms )

Auction Estimate: $300,000.00$200,000.00 - $300,000.00

Price Realized $288,000.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Acquired from the artist by N. D. (Jack) Young, Toronto by 1953
Mrs. Linda Wilson, Toronto, by descent
Acquired by the present Private Collection through Christopher Varley, Toronto, April 1998
“A.Y. Jackson Paintings 1902-1953”, Art Gallery of Toronto, travelling to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, October 1953‒January 1954, no. 41 as circa 1925
“A.Y. Jackson: The Canadian Landscape”, London Public Library and Art Museum, 29 January‒20 February 1960, also shown as “A.Y. Jackson A Retrospective Exhibition”, Art Gallery of Hamilton, March‒April 1960, no. 86
A.Y. Jackson, Baie‒Saint‒Paul, to Florence Clement, 16 March [1923] and 10 January [1924]; McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto to A.Y. Jackson, Westmount, 16 January 1924; memo to Mr. McClelland, 10 April 1924 and Jack McClelland to A.Y. Jackson, Toronto, 21 October 1924, all in Naomi Jackson Groves fonds, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (MG30 D351, Box 95, files 11 & 12, and Box 91, file 5)
A.Y. Jackson, Baie‒Saint‒Paul, to J.E.H. MacDonald, 12 January 1924, in J.E.H. MacDonald fonds, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (MG 30 D111, vol. 1-2a)
A.Y Jackson, Baie-Saint-Paul to Norah Thomson, Toronto, 16 January [1924] in Norah de Pencier Fonds, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (MG 30 D322, vol. 1)
Adjutor Rivard, translated by W.H. Blake, “Chez Nous (Our Old Quebec Home)”, Toronto, 1924
“A.Y. Jackson Paintings 1902-1953”, Toronto, 1953, plate 10 reproduced
Jean Burness, Alan Suddon, Grace Pincoe, ‘A.Y. Jackson’, in “Who’s Who in Ontario Art”, Part 19, Section 2 (May 1954) and Part 21 (August 1954), unpaginated
“A.Y. Jackson, A Painter’s Country: The Autobiography of A.Y. Jackson”, Toronto, 1958, pages 54, 59‒60
Jennifer Davidson, “A.Y. Jackson: On a Personal Note. Letters A.Y. wrote to my Grandfather 1949-1969”, Blurb, 2014, pages 53‒54, reproduced
Beginning in late February 1921, and for more than two decades, A.Y. Jackson explored the many topographies and villages of the Lower Saint Lawrence. He first visited Baie-Saint-Paul on the north shore in 1923, writing from the Hotel Victoria to his cousin Florence Clement in Kitchener on 16 March. “It’s snowing in Baie St. Paul. It seldom seems to stop and soon there won’t be anything to paint but snow. The fences have all disappeared and the houses are piled up till they look like mushrooms. It’s almost impossible to get around. .... The village is rather fine. New church, very awful architecture replacing a fine old one, and a lot of gaily painted houses but rather hard to compose. ... I have to fill up 50 panels before I leave here.”

The following year Jackson returned to Baie-Saint-Paul and on 12 January he wrote to J.E.H. MacDonald in Toronto. “Here we are in Christmas card country, at least it looks that way very often. I see cards all waiting to be done;” and four days later to Norah Thomson, book buyer for the T. Eaton Company stores. “Just a line as I am going out to make some pencil notes for “Chez Nous”. I have not done much yet but have a lot of it in my head and can visualize the completed book and you advising everyone to buy it next autumn. I hope you won’t loose your reputation through it. ... Lots of snow - always more of that here. It just looks like last winter except that the houses that had new paint have faded, thank the lord for Canadian paint.”

In “Le Boulanger, Baie-Saint-Paul”, the closely-knit houses are arranged across the canvas in a palette of mauves, blues, oranges, browns, reds and yellows. The bright red sleigh of the baker accentuates the foreground. The flattened arrangement of houses and shallow recession create a superbly decorative composition with a sentiment of intimacy that sets it apart from Jackson’s other Quebec canvases.

“Le Boulanger, Baie-Saint-Paul” was clearly conceived at the same time as Jackson’s illustrations for W.H. Blake’s translation of Adjutor Rivard’s book “Chez Nous”, published in 1924. A drawing in the book of smoke rising from chimneys above the snow-covered rooftops of the village has the same intimacy as the painting. Chez Nous was a project suggested by Clarence Gagnon who lived and worked in Baie-Saint- Paul, most likely during Jackson’s visit in 1923, as McClelland and Stewart did not commit to publication until January 1924. Jackson produced drawings for the cover and end papers as well as eleven chapter headings that were printed as full page illustrations, much to Jackson’s annoyance when the book was first printed in October 1924. As Jackson later noted the book was a great success, for in three months the publishers issued three printings.

No preparatory oil sketch for this canvas has been located but the McMichael Canadian Art Collection has a wonderful rapid sketch of the baker’s sleigh. Nor has it been possible to surely identify this painting with any of the many Quebec village canvases Jackson exhibited in the twenties. The grand-daughter of Jack Young, Jackson’s financial manager and friend and the previous owner of this painting, has recounted that it was found neglected in Jackson’s studio, purchased by Young and hung in his home some time in the 1940s.

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.

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Alexander Young Jackson
(1882 - 1974) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA

Born in Montreal, Alexander Young Jackson left school at the age of twelve and began work at a Montreal printing firm. In 1906, he undertook art studies at the Art Institute in Chicago. The following year he enrolled at the Académie Julian where he studied under Jean Paul Laurens for six months, then he travelled to Italy with others where they visited galleries in Rome, Florence and Venice. They returned to France and Jackson went to the village of Episy with a fellow student named Porter with whom he had lived in Paris. Jackson found much to paint at Episy: old farms, rolling country, the canal where barges were towed by mules, and for the first time (in France) he lived with people close to the land.

He left France when his funds were low and returned to Canada in 1910 where the “clear crisp air and sharp shadows” of Sweetsburg, Quebec, became the subject of his canvas “Edge of the Maple Wood”. During this period his painting was strongly influenced by the Impressionists. Then the work of Canadian artists Cullen and Morrice led him further in the discoveries of snow and other elements of Canadian subject matter which were to become an integral part of his work throughout his life. After his return to Canada, Jackson took up residence in Montreal and made many sketching trips to the surrounding countryside. While at Emileville he received a letter from a J.E.H. MacDonald of Toronto who wanted to purchase his “Edge of the Maple Wood” on behalf of a third party, Lawren Harris. Jackson sold the picture and later met MacDonald in Toronto. In Toronto he also met, through MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley and other members of the Arts and Letters Club who were employed by the Grip Engraving Company as commercial artists. Jackson later went to Georgian Bay to sketch and was visited there by Dr. James MacCallum, a friend of Lawren Harris. MacCallum, who had a summer home at the Bay, offered Jackson a place to work in the ‘Studio Building’ which MacCallum and Lawren Harris were having built for Canadian artists in Toronto. In the meantime Jackson was invited to stay at MacCallum’s summer home. Jackson’s production was good; he did many sketches and a number of canvases, one being the “Maple in the Pine Woods” which was later to bring a storm of criticism at a Group of Seven exhibition.

On his return to Toronto, Jackson stayed at Lawren Harris’ studio in Toronto until the Studio Building was completed. There one day he was introduced to Tom Thomson who had accompanied Dr. MacCallum on a visit. Thomson was also an employee of the Grip Engraving Company. The two moved into the Studio Building in January 1914 and shared a studio. Thomson had soon inspired Jackson to visit Algonquin Park in February and March of 1914. Jackson also sketched that year with J.E.H. MacDonald and J.W. Beatty. In 1915, Jackson enlisted as a private in the 60th Battalion and after being wounded, returned later to the front as Lieutenant with Canadian War Records. As a war artist he created one of the finest collections of war paintings our nation possesses.

In 1919 he went to Algoma with J.E.H. MacDonald, Lawren Harris and Franz Johnston, making use of a railway box car as a studio which Harris had arranged. During that year, Jackson became a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy. On May 7th, 1920, the first exhibition of the Group of Seven opened at the Art Gallery of Toronto. The Group continued to exhibit until 1931. Each exhibition of the Group was met with great protest. In July of 1927 Jackson and Dr. Frederick Banting went north on the steamer ‘Beothic’ which had been chartered by the government to deliver supplies to the RCMP posts and to carry relief constables to the posts. They sketched at Pond Inlet, Devon Island, Ellesmere Island and other arctic locations. Jackson’s arctic sketches were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Jackson's great sense of adventure carried him from the east coast across Canada to the Rocky Mountains of the west. He made regular sketching trips to Quebec every spring and travelled to the far regions of Canada during the summer, including the Canadian Arctic. In the fall he would return to the Studio Building in Toronto (where he lived until 1955), spending the winters painting canvases. He continued this active lifestyle until he was in his eighties.

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