Artwork by Jack Leonard Shadbolt,  25 Birds of Good Omen

Jack Shadbolt
25 Birds of Good Omen

signed and dated 1970 lower right; titled and inscribed “For Doris on the occasion of our 25th anniversary Sept. 21, 1970” lower left
60 x 40 in ( 152.4 x 101.6 cm )

Auction Estimate: $30,000.00$20,000.00 - $30,000.00

Price Realized $26,400.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

Estate of the artist
Doris Shadbolt, Vancouver
Masters Gallery, Calgary
Private collection
"Correspondences: Jack Shadbolt", Glenbow Museum, 2 November 1991- 5 January 1992, no. 72 as "Birds of Good Omen For Doris", 1970
"Jack Shadbolt, R.C.A., Works from the Estate", Masters Gallery, Calgary, 4-6 April 2002 as "25 Birds of Good Omen", 1970
Scott Watson, "Jack Shadbolt", Vancouver/Toronto, 1990, reproduced page 145
Patricia Ainslie, "Correspondences: Jack Shadbolt", Calgary, 1991, no. 72, reproduced page 64
Masters Gallery, "Jack Shadbolt, R.C.A., Works from the Estate", Calgary, April 2002, reproduced on the cover
Jack Shadbolt played a significant role in the Vancouver art scene starting from the 1940s, alongside B.C. Binning. Drawing inspiration from Cubism, Surrealism, American Regionalism, and Northwest Coast Native American art, Shadbolt utilized these diverse influences to express his profound connection to nature and its cultural significance. Surrealism was a formative influence on Shadbolt’s work and the thread that tied all periods of the artist’s body of work together. The use of Surrealism became more clear and specific as the years progressed. While Surrealism informed the work, Shadbolt’s attention to the formal principles, such as draughtsmanship and deliberate structuring of form provided cohesion and harmony.

Shadbolt emigrated from England in 1912, initially settling in the B.C. interior before making Victoria his home in 1914. His encounter with Emily Carr in 1930 at Victoria College left a lasting impact on his life and work. Despite their differing artistic styles, both artists drew inspiration from the spiritual connection with nature seen in Northwest Coast Native American art. This shared interest in the mystic unity of natural, cosmic, and cultural elements resonates deeply in Jack Shadbolt's work.

Created as a twenty-fifth anniversary gift for his wife, Doris, "25 Birds of Good Omen" is a calendar of owls, which represent the 25 happy years of marriage for the couple. Jack and Doris were a close couple who married in 1945. Together they founded the Vancouver Institute of Visual Arts together, which was a charitable foundation that provided grants to artists to nurture and support their practice.

Birds were a recurring theme for the artist whose work regularly dealt with metamorphosis and the natural world. "25 Birds of Good Omen" was created during the same year that Shadbolt was featured in a touring thirty year retrospective organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada. It was also the year that Shadbolt began a series of works that featured owls, with some incorporating collage. Other works in the series included "Birds in a Tree, October" and "The Owl Shop". Shadbolt's exploration of sequences and series in the 1970s was often likened to pop aesthetics, but he viewed repetition as a way to connect to myth, ritual, and sexuality. While Romans believed the owl to be a bad omen associated with death and ill fate, the Greeks had a more favourable view. The owl was revered and symbolized wisdom. Owl trinkets were meant to protect the bearer and brought good fortune and luck. Among the single species is dynamic variety. In "25 Birds of Good Omen" each owl is given a distinct look and personality in recognition that each year of a marriage is different and constantly evolving.

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Jack Leonard Shadbolt
(1909 - 1998) RCA

Jack Shadbolt was a dominant figure in the Vancouver art scene beginning in the 1940s, alongside B.C. Binning. Shadbolt drew from many sources of inspiration, including Cubism, Surrealism, American Regionalism and Northwest Coast Native American art. He drew on these various sources to help him express his deep affinity for nature and its cultural representation.

Shadbolt emigrated from England in 1912 and moved first to the BC interior before settling in Victoria in 1914. He met Emily Carr in 1930 while attending Victoria College, who left a strong impression on his life and work. Although their artistic styles varied considerably from one another, they were both inspired by the spiritual unity with nature apparent in Northwest Coast Native American art. Shadbolt was an official war artist in the Canadian Army during World War II. After the war, he resumed his post as a faculty member at the Vancouver School of Art, and in 1987 founded the Vancouver Institute for the Visual Arts with his wife Doris (now The Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts). Shadbolt studied at the Art Students' League in New York, London, and Paris, and with Group of Seven member Frederick Varley at the Vancouver School of Art. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime, including Officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.