Artwork by Alexander Young Jackson,  Gulf of St. Lawrence

A.Y. Jackson
Gulf of St. Lawrence

ink & watercolour, heightened with white
signed lower right, titled with notations in the margins; signed, titled and inscribed “Gulf of St. Lawrence (Beston); Illustration for The St. Lawrence, Rivers of America”, “A.Y. Jackson, Studio Bldg., Severn St., Toronto” and “To Farrar and Rinehart, 232 Madison Ave., New York” on the reverse
7.25 x 10.5 ins ( 18.4 x 26.7 cms ) ( sight )

Sold for $14,950.00
Sale date: May 25th 2017

Acquired directly from the artist
By descent to the current Private Collection, Toronto
Henry Beston, illustrated by A.Y. Jackson, Rivers of America: The St. Lawrence, Toronto, 1942, reproduced on the dust jacket cover
A.Y. Jackson, A Painter’s Country, Vancouver/Toronto, 1958, pages 137-38
David P. Silcox, The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, Toronto, 2003, page 192 for a canvas of this subject by A.Y. Jackson
A.Y. Jackson was employed to illustrate Henry Beston’s “The St. Lawrence”, the 1942 volume of the “Rivers of America” series, Jackson’s interest in the project related to the painter having “read a number of the volumes in the series, and Iiking some of them very much.” However, the job was met with difficulties and irritations for Jackson, who had assumed that the project would be as simple as getting a general permit to paint throughout the region and be able to travel freely to work. However, recording details of a major Canadian waterway during wartime would mean regular interruption from the Veteran’s Guard and military personnel. On one occasion while Jackson was sketching “some barns in a little village on the south shore below Quebec” he was stopped to produce his permit for working in the area. Realizing he had left the document at his lodging, the painter and official had to trudge through the snow back to the hotel to produce the permit. Years later in his autobiography, Jackson shared his frustration of such suspicions from authorities: “People have stupid ideas about what a drawing can convey. If a spy wanted factual information, all he would have to do would be memorize the details and put them down in note form later.”

Despite the difficulties, Jackson’s contribution to “The St. Lawrence” is notable, bringing the book to life with several ink drawings and watercolours adorning the pages, providing enchanting views of the region and life of its inhabitants. This painting, chosen as the cover image for the book, provides a strong representation of the painter’s focus during the period, portraying a sleigh-driven voyage coming to an end, the arrival in the cozy village witnessed by the viewer. The village sits on the shore of the mighty St. Lawrence, the icy waterway occupying as much space in the composition as the hamlet, below a rolling horizon and high clouded sky, the grey-scaled tones effectively providing the atmosphere of a Quebec winter afternoon. The scene was also the subject of St. Lawrence in Winter, a canvas by Jackson, varied mainly by greater space provided in the foreground and the horse and sleigh being farther into their arrival.

This artwork was a gift to the editor of “The St. Lawrence” during the early 1940s and has remained in the family until this offering.

Share this item with your friends

Alexander Young Jackson
(1882 - 1974) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA

Born in Montreal, Alexander Young Jackson left school at the age of twelve and began work at a Montreal printing firm. In 1906, he undertook art studies at the Art Institute in Chicago. The following year he enrolled at the Academie Julian in Paris and remained in France until 1912. During this period his painting was strongly influenced by the Impressionists. After his return to Canada, Jackson took up residence in Montreal and made many sketching trips to the surrounding countryside. Harris and MacDonald were impressed by Jackson's work and, in 1913, persuaded him to move to Toronto. Jackson's great sense of adventure carried him from the east coast across Canada to the Rocky Mountains of the west. He made regular sketching trips to Quebec every spring and travelled to the far regions of Canada during the summer, including the Canadian Arctic. In the fall he would return to the Studio Building in Toronto (where he lived until 1955), spending the winters painting canvases. He continued this active lifestyle until he was in his eighties.