Artwork by Frederick Grant Banting,  Bic, Quebec
Thumbnail of Artwork by Frederick Grant Banting,  Bic, Quebec Thumbnail of Artwork by Frederick Grant Banting,  Bic, Quebec Thumbnail of Artwork by Frederick Grant Banting,  Bic, Quebec

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Lot #6

Frederick Banting
Bic, Quebec

oil on canvas
signed lower right; signed, titled, dated 1927 and F.G Banting M.D. stamp (signed and dated 1941 by Lady Henrietta Banting) on the stretcher on the reverse
19 x 23 in ( 48.3 x 58.4 cm )

Auction Estimate: $40,000.00$30,000.00 - $40,000.00

Roberts Gallery, Toronto
Joyner Fine Art, Toronto, auction, November 26, 1985, lot 339
Private Collection, Toronto
“Our Visual Heritage”, WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, 3-26 August, 2000
A.Y. Jackson, "A Painter's Country", Vancouver/Toronto, 1959, page 61
Nobel Prize winner Sir Frederick Grant Banting frequented the Arts and Letters Club when he was able to find time away from his medical career. At this club he met A.Y. Jackson in 1927, and the two quickly became friends and sketching companions. That same year, the pair travelled to St-Jean-Port-Joli, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, where Banting received his first instruction in "en plein air" landscape painting from the Group artist. Jackson reminisces:

“This was Banting's first experience of painting out of doors in winter time. It was March, but there was no sign of spring, and we were working in very exposed country. The winds swept from the Gulf and there was no shelter from them. Banting persisted, though it was an ordeal for him. I found him one day crouched behind a rail fence, the snow drifting into his sketch box and his hands so cold he could hardly work. He turned to me and said, 'And I thought this was a sissy game.' Later, we went to Bic and to Tobin, a little dead sawmill town; here spring found us and we painted the melting snow.”

This charming winter scene of Bic, Quebec, on the Lower St. Lawrence, would have been painted during this first sketching trip the two men embarked on together. The rhythmic lines of sky and snow covering the roofs and ground show influence from Jackson, as does the empty sled, in its reference to human presence and to “Christmas card country”, as Jackson would describe the small towns of Quebec to fellow Group of Seven member, J.E.H. MacDonald.

Shortly after this initial trip in Quebec, in July of 1927, Banting and Jackson made a voyage to the Arctic. During their two and a half month stay, the pair sketched the wide range of weather conditions and light variations of the Arctic landscape. Banting accompanied Jackson on many subsequent sketching trips, including the North shore of the St. Lawrence, Great Slave Lake and Georgian Bay.
Sale Date: May 30th 2024

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

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Frederick Grant Banting
(1891 - 1941)

Born in 1891 in Alliston, Ontario, Frederick Banting studied medicine at the University of Toronto. He received his MB degree in 1916 and immediately joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps and was sent overseas. He was wounded in France and awarded the Military Cross for bravery. Following the first World War, he continued his medical studies, receiving his M.D. degree in 1922. He had a particular interest in diabetes. Together with his assistant, Charles Best, Banting started the work which would lead to the lifesaving discovery of insulin. For this innovation, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923. After the war, he had briefly set up a practice in London, Ontario. The practice was slow in getting started, so with some time on his hands, he was gripped with an urge to paint. This came about one day, when he happened by a London shop, with a display of artist’s paints in the window. He purchased them and embarked on teaching himself to paint. As his medical career took off, he had little time to devote to this passion, but after winning the Nobel Prize, he was able to dedicate some time to art. He became a collector as well as a painter. In 1927, he approached A.Y. Jackson, wishing to purchase one of his war sketches. This was the beginning of a long friendship. He saw one of Lawren Harris’ canvases and went to the artist’s studio to discuss this work and they became friends. Banting shared an appreciation of the beauty of the rugged Canadian landscape with both artists.

That same year, Jackson and Banting went on their first sketching excursion together. They travelled to St-Jean Port Jolie, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence. There, Banting received his first instruction in plein air landscape painting technique from Jackson. He had a natural aptitude and his works were accepted at juried exhibitions, but he was always afraid that his work had been accepted because of his reputation as a scientist, rather than its own merit. After a time, he no longer submitted works for exhibition. He was also reluctant to sell his paintings. He had an ingenious way of supporting the artists of his acquaintance. When a collector indicated a wish to purchase one of his paintings, he instructed them to purchase a work from another local artist, and he would then exchange it for one of his own works.

In July of 1927, Banting travelled with Jackson to the Arctic. On a trip lasting two and a half months, they encountered a variety of weather and light conditions in the Arctic landscape. They returned with many sketches. The one Jackson painted of Bache Post was donated to the National Gallery of Canada by the Minister of the Interior. Over the years Banting accompanied Jackson on many sketching trips. At different times, they returned to the North shore of the St. Lawrence, travelled to the Great Slave Lake area, and visited the Group of Seven haunt, Georgian Bay. At times they were joined by other artists. Banting thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor painting experience. He invented a system for getting his completed sketches home, without spoiling them, while they were still wet. He placed match sticks between the panels as spacers, a trick that A.Y. Jackson continued to use for the rest of his career. Jackson spoke of Banting’s great determination and hard work on these sketching trips, often getting up to sketch long before breakfast.

When the Second World War began, he began to devote himself exclusively to medical research, serving as a medical liaison officer between the British and North American medical services.