Baie St. Paul by John William Beatty
Baie St. Paul
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1929 lower left
18 x 22 ins ( 45.7 x 55.9 cms )
Sold for $32,200.00
Sale date: November 25th 2015
Private Collection, Toronto
Dorothy Hoover, “J.W. Beatty”, Toronto, 1947, pages
Dorothy M. Farr, “J.W. Beatty: 1869-1941”, Kingston, 1981, page 35
While likely difficult to some under his tutelage, Beatty's lessons speaks to the painter's vision and technique. “Baie St. Paul” acts as a firm example of his mastery of depicting the behaviour of light through the employment an extended gradient of colour, with no shade of colour clearly repeated in multiple areas of the scene. As soft blue shadows crawl across the packed snow of the foreground, they are bordered with dark pinks which dissolve into lighter and varied grades of the pigment throughout the lower half of the composition. The snow acts as its own canvas, as light and shadow interplay harmoniously. Beneath a pale blue sky, rolling hills of alternate blues, mauves and crimson are accented with strokes of green and red. A frozen turquoise pool provides yet another shade of blue at the base of the ridge at the left edge. At the centre, the two cottages sit behind a partial screen of thin trees, the winter leaving the branches bare and providing a clear view of the homestead. The buildings are treated to differing levels of light and shadow from all sides, their yellows beaming a shade of canary when reflecting direct light from behind, the gradient sliding to a reddish brown when in full shadow. As the snow fights to hold to the roofs, we see that Beatty manages to avoid black even here, the tops of the houses painted in deep navy blues, reflecting rather than absorbing light. Beatty's incredibly interplay of light, shadow and colour provides a scene of both warmth and frigidity, the perceived unforgiving elements of the scene secondary to the glow from the high sun on this winter day.
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John William Beatty
(1869 - 1941) OSA RCA
J.W. Beatty’s early art training came from his father, a sign and house painter who passed along his knowledge of graphics. He left school early and found work at a local engraving firm. While still a teenager he joined the 10th Grenadiers as a bugler and served in this capacity in the Northwest Rebellion. Following his military service, he married and joined Toronto's newly formed Fire Department. He had not lost sight of his childhood dream to become an artist, and used his spare time at the fire hall to paint portraits of his fellow firemen and to do still life paintings. He also sought out formal training from professional artists in the after hours. When he had saved enough money, he and his wife sailed for Paris where he planned to study at the Academie Julian.
At the Academie, he studied under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant and earned several awards for his figure drawing. After returning to Toronto in 1901, he opened a studio and began to teach at the Ontario School of Art and Design. He attended classes at the Mahlstick Club and became a member of the Graphic Arts Club. He then returned to Europe where he continued studies at the Academie Julian and the Colarossi Academy. After further studies in London, and travelled around Europe to Holland, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The Barbizon School, based on the atmospheric paintings of John Constable, was a powerful influence all around Europe, and had its affect on Beatty as well. He returned to Toronto in 1909 and continued painting and teaching classes. He was among the innovative Toronto artists who travelled to Northern Ontario to sketch via canoe. Starting in 1912 he went on regular sketching trips with Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald and A.Y. Jackson. He was offered a studio in the famed Studio Building, in Toronto’s Rosedale Valley Ravine. He and Jackson were both awarded a commission by the Canadian Northern Railway to paint in and around the construction camps as the railway was laid through the rocky mountains. Beatty carved the stonework for the memorial cairn erected to his friend, Tom Thomson, at Canoe Lake. He was appointed an official war artist this same year. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, the Ontario Society of Artists, and served as president of the Arts and Letters Club. His works are in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Collection, Hart House at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University Art Centre, the Canadian War Museum and elsewhere. (ref: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists by Colin MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1997)