Artwork by Henry Mortikar Rosenberg,  Girls Gathering Firewood, circa 1886

Henry M. Rosenberg
Girls Gathering Firewood, circa 1886

oil on canvas
signed and inscribed “Halifax” lower left
20 x 24 ins ( 50.8 x 61 cms )

Auction Estimate: $8,000.00$6,000.00 - $8,000.00

Price Realized $26,400.00
Sale date: June 8th 2023

Private Collection
“Reinvention: The Art and Life of H.M. Rosenberg”, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, 2012
“Art canadien: L’enfant et son univers|Canadian Art: A Child’s World”, Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Montreal, 28 October‒11 November 2017, no. 18
“Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons 1880-1930”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; travelling to Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich; Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne; Museé Fabre, Montpellier, 19 July 2013‒3 July 2021, no. 46
Dougald John MacGillivray, ‘About Art in Halifax’, uncredited newspaper clipping, circa 1928, in Rosenberg Scrapbook at Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Mora Dianne O’Neill, “Reinvention: the art and life of HM Rosenberg”, Halifax, 2012, page 120
Gyrth Russell, ‘The Visit’, “Dalhousie Review 6” (1926) pages 370‒3
NSCA Scrapbook of clippings, ‘Nova Scotian Artist has made friends of ‘Greats’ in Travels’, “Halifax Daily Star”, 13 March 1934, Nova Scotia Archives, MG 17 Vol 45
Katerina Atanassova, “Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons, 1880- 1930”, Ottawa, 2019, no. 46, reproduced page 174
One of the ‘Duveneck Boys’ in Munich and Italy in the late 1870s and early 1880s, Henry Rosenberg served as principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD University) between 1896 and 1909.

His “Girls Gathering Firewood”, painted in Halifax in 1886, reflects his receptiveness to new artistic ideas absorbed from Whistler, Sargent, and Gauguin during his years in Venice and Brittany, although precise documentation of his European activity is sadly lacking. Gauguin had been pleased by the enthusiasm of the American artists in Pont-Aven to his work, and Rosenberg might well have accompanied him on the sketching expeditions that led to “Pont-Aven Woman and Child” (Private Collection) or “Bathing in Front of the Port of Pont-Aven” (Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis) or “La Bergère Bretonne” (Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne) that year. Rosenberg produced three small pastels of the children in Breton costume who appear in the painting before leaving Pont-Aven to attend the wedding of Frances Jones and Hamlet Bannerman at Halifax in 1886, where he utilized them for this delightful painting. Certainly, he had replaced his earlier use of the pearly grey palette chosen by other Americans at Pont-Aven for the warmer tones favoured by Gauguin, and the foliage in his painting mimics the application of spontaneous brushstrokes Gauguin employed for those paintings and for “Les Lavandières à Pont-Aven “(Musée d’Orsay, Paris) that same year. Rosenberg, however, as did almost all the North American Impressionists, maintained a naturalistic handling for the human figure.

His debt to Whistler is most evident in etchings he produced in Venice and Brittany, for some of which he followed Whistler’s practice of drawing the scene before him directly on the plate–thus producing its mirror image. Many misty views of Halifax Harbour also recall Whistler’s views of the Lagoon at Venice. “His Street in Chioggia” (owned by a family member but now lost) shared the dark and brooding quality characteristic of Sargent’s early work in Venice. The National Gallery holds six of Rosenberg’s European etchings as well as a small impressionistic canvas. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, Dalhousie Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Ontario also hold representative works.

We extend out thanks to Dianne O’Neill, former Associate Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, where she devoted forty-odd years to the history of art-making in that province, for contributing the preceding essay.

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Henry Mortikar Rosenberg
(1858 - 1947)