Artwork by Cornelius Krieghoff,  Indian Encampment on the Lower St. Lawrence

Cornelius Krieghoff
Indian Encampment on the Lower St. Lawrence

oil on canvas
signed lower right
12.25 x 16.25 ins ( 31.1 x 41.3 cms )

Sold for $17,250.00
Sale date: November 23rd 2017

Private Collection, Calgary
J. Russell Harper, Krieghoff, Toronto, 1979, pages 44 and 137
Cornelius Krieghoff’s images of Canada’s native people are some of his most acclaimed within a wide range of subject matter. Depictions of the native population make up approximately one-third of the artist’s known body of work. Krieghoff often represented this subject as a portrayal of an idealistic relationship between man and nature. In paintings such as “Indian Encampment on the Lower St. Lawrence,” he sought to represent the Native People as being perfectly attuned to nature. As Russell Harper notes, Krieghoff portrayed “man unspoiled by the complexities of artificial and unnatural civilization.” The canvas depicts a sumptuously detailed view of the St. Lawrence River in autumn, and only upon a closer look does it reveal three figures surrounding a wigwam. Harper writes that Krieghoff gradually scaled down the human presence in these works in order to emphasize the idyllic landscape, stating that “increasingly he viewed them romantically and at the same time, he shrank them into large landscapes.”

Krieghoff settled in Montreal in 1846, where he regularly painted the First Nations people of Caughnawaga, a Native reserve south of the island. He produced large canvases for wealthy clients and very small ones for those with modest incomes. In 1853 the artist moved to Quebec, and revisited this preferred subject throughout the city and its surrounding regions. While Canada was undergoing major constitutional changes in addition to industrialization and urbanization during Krieghoff’s two decades in the country, the artist rarely depicted evidence of this transformation in his artworks. Rather, he was firmly preoccupied with French-speaking ‘habitants’ and the Native People of rural life.

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Cornelius Krieghoff
(1815 - 1872)

In 1837, Cornelius Krieghoff came to the United States and joined the American army until 1840. During his term of duty he made many sketches of the Seminole tribal war from which he later did paintings. He lived in Montreal for some time and participated in the Salon de la Societe des Artistes de Montreal with the painter Somerville. During his stay in Montreal he befriended the Indians at the Sault Saint-Louis Reservation (Caughnawaga) and made many sketches of them which he later used as inspiration for his paintings. In 1847, he was invited to participate in the first exhibition of the Toronto Society of Arts. In 1853, on the invitation of John Budden, auctioneer, he went to live in Quebec City. He returned to Europe in 1854 and visit Italy and Germany. Back in Canada in 1855, the artist painted winter scenes of farm houses as well as a great variety of themes. Most of the sketches he made since 1855 were destroyed in the Great Quebec Fire in 1881. In 1868 he retired in Chicago. He came back to Quebec City in 1871 only to return again to Chicago where he passed away on March 8.