Artwork by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald,  East Kildonan
Thumbnail of Artwork by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald,  East Kildonan Thumbnail of Artwork by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald,  East Kildonan Thumbnail of Artwork by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald,  East Kildonan

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Mayberry Fine Art
212 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg MB R3B 0S3
Ph. 1(866)931-8415

Lot #108

L.L. FitzGerald
East Kildonan

oil on canvas
signed lower left; titled and dated twice (”1920” and “Sep. 18/20”) on the reverse
21.75 x 23.75 in ( 55.2 x 60.3 cm )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$12,000.00 - $15,000.00

Collection of Douglas M. Duncan, Toronto
Collection of The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1970
"FitzGerald in Rural Manitoba", Winnipeg Art Gallery; travelling across the province to McCreary; Neepawa; Dauphin; Virden; Holland; Leaf Rapids and Portage la Prairie, 6 March 1992-10 November 1993
"L.L. Fitzgerald's Impressionist Decade 1910-1920", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Spring 2015
"FitzGerald in Rural Manitoba", Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1992
As a teenager, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald awakened to art when he discovered the Carnegie Library in Winnipeg shortly after it opened in 1905. There he read the writings of the British artist and critic John Ruskin (1819–1900), who not only offered guidance on how to draw but introduced FitzGerald to England’s most famous nineteenth- century landscape painters: John Constable (1776–1837) and J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851).

After several classes in drawing from a living model at A.S. Keszthelyi’s School of Fine Arts in 1909, FitzGerald entered the world of commercial art where he worked for the next nine years. By the beginning of the First World War, his exposure to fine art would have been informed primarily by Barbizon and Hague School landscape paintings with some knowledge of French Impressionism gained indirectly by looking at black-and-white reproductions in the "Studio Magazine" and its American counterpart "International Studio". FitzGerald might also have seen some French Impressionist inspired paintings by Canadian artists such as Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Maurice Cullen, and Clarence Gagnon when the Winnipeg Museum of Fine Arts (now the Winnipeg Art Gallery) opened in 1912.

FitzGerald would not embark on a formal course of art training until late 1921 when he attended the Art Students League in New York. But in 1920, at age thirty, he was sketching and painting en plein air in the immediate environs of Winnipeg. He painted several pictures in East Kildonan, a primarily agricultural community located about eight kilometres northeast of Winnipeg that could be reached easily by streetcar from downtown. The “Rural Municipality of East Kildonan,” as it was known at the time, became one of FitzGerald’s favourite painting locations and a place that in the early thirties also inspired Winnipeg artists Eric Bergman and Caven Atkins.

"East Kildonan", 1920 presents a lively version of FitzGerald’s self- taught Impressionism. The active brushwork of the lush foreground foliage, conceived in blue and green, is complemented by the colour of the farm buildings that are set against an active pattern of sky and cloud. Human presence is represented by the barn and water tower. FitzGerald’s brushwork blends these elements with the rural landscape to create a unity and overall feeling of harmony and natural beauty.

Michael Parke-Taylor is a Canadian art historian, curator, and author of "Bertram Brooker: When We Awake!" (McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2024) and editor of "Some Magnetic Force: Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald Writings" (Concordia University Press, 2023).

This artwork is being sold to benefit the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq in establishing an endowment fund to support more diverse representation in the permanent collection, beginning with contemporary Canadian art. Cowley Abbott is pleased to donate our selling commission to the fund as part of the sale.
Sale Date: May 30th 2024

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Mayberry Fine Art
212 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg MB R3B 0S3
Ph. 1(866)931-8415

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Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald
(1890 - 1956) Group of Seven, Canadian Group of Painters, WSC

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he received his education. At the age of 14, he went to work in a wholesale drug office. He also worked in an engraver’s plant and in a stockbroker’s office until he was 22. All this time, he had also attended art classes, nights, at A.S. Kesztheli’s Art School in Wpg. (1909-12). About 1912, he went into the field of art full time. He married Vally Wright and they had two children, Edward and Patricia. Working in many branches of art to support his family, he did everything from decorating windows to painting scenery. During this time, he was developing successfully in his easel painting and exhibited with the RCA between 1912 and 1925. His work was then strongly influenced by French Impressionists but was Canadian in subject matter. He held his first solo shows in 1921 at the WAG. Earlier that year, he had completed studies at the ASL/NY under Boardman Robinson and Kenneth Hayes Miller. In 1924, he joined the staff of the Winnipeg School of Art and four years later became its principal. Of this period, William Colgate in “Canadian Art” (1943) noted, “…he returned to Winnipeg to teach in its art school. In spite of his necessary preoccupation with teaching, he was steadily pursued his bent as a landscape painter and has occasionally been represented in more important exhibitions of Winnipeg, Toronto and elsewhere…”

Writing about his work, Donald Buchanan noted, “…Fitzgerald…worked too slowly and painstakingly ever to be affected by such vagaries of fashion…painted little, and that little with precise care. Most of his year was given over to his duties as principal of the Winnipeg School of Art. The relatively few water-colours and oils he did of the prairie or of the thin tracery of trees along the edges of Manitoba streams were, however, always much admired, as were also his more numerous drawings….”

Fitzgerald had been appointed Principal of the WSA in August of 1929. In the summer of 1929, he also met Bertram Brooker, artist, broadcaster and playwright, visiting his native Winnipeg on a business trip. The two artists then kept in contact with one another by letter. Fitzgerald had a profound influence on Brooker’s direction in art. Brooker turned from total abstraction to realism. Fitzgerald himself had moved to a greater stylization of his work. In 1929, F.B. Housser wrote, “His work is rarely seen in eastern galleries. A few years ago, his canvases were among the most popular exhibited in Winnipeg but a change of direction along more modern lines carried him ahead of the public and consequently into greater obscurity…. He works in oils and black-and-white and has also done mural painting, having executed a decorative scheme for a room in the St. Charles Hotel, Winnipeg.”

This change was to lead him into the ranks of the Group of Seven, the last member, in 1932, replacing J.E.H MacDonald, who had died earlier that year. Fitzgerald’s work took on more design, his trees became less detailed while at the same time his development of scenes from his house or his backyard began to appear; these were more meticulous, although never cluttered in detail. In 1933, he became a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters, which grew out of the Group of Seven, when it disbanded the same year. By the late 1940’s and 1950’s, he had returned to the cycle of the Impressionists, particularly reminiscent of one of its later members, Georges Seurat, although there is no evidence to suggest that he actually studied Seurat’s work. It was said of him, “A painter of the prairies, he was nevertheless a quiet man, the antithesis of the robustness sometimes associated with the West….” He made impressive graphics which included wood engravings, drypoints, and was especially successful with his linocuts. His drawings were always superb.

He did abstract and semi-abstract work in the 1950’s and had done a few in the late 1930’s. Some of his pen and ink drawings were done by making tiny flecks or short strokes to form an outline of his subjects. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has one of the finest collections of his work due to prudent purchases by its curators, singular bequest of the Douglas M. Duncan Collection, made through Duncan’s sister J.P. Barwick.

He was awarded an Honorary L.L.D., at the University of Manitoba (1952). In 1956, at the age of 66, he died of a heart attack. His ashes were scattered over the area of Snowflake, Manitoba, where he spent his youth during his summer holidays on his grandmother’s farm. In April of 1958, four galleries collaborated in a memorial exhibition at the NGC. The exhibition then went on tour. In May of 1963, an exhibition of 128 of his works titled, “A New Fitzgerald”, was shown at the WAG. The show included portraits, animal sketches, landscapes and a number of nudes.

In the Winnipeg suburb of St. James where he lived most of his life, the community named a lane “Fitzgerald’s Walk” in his memory.

Literature Source:
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 1: A-F, 5th Edition, Revised and Expanded", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1997