Franklin Carmichael R.C.A.
Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal;
Masters Gallery Ltd., Calgary;
Private collection, Tennessee;
Art Gallery of Ontario, Exhibition of Great Paintings in Aid of the Red Cross and of small pictures by members of the Ontario Society of Artists, November 15 – December 15, 1940
Spring, a delightfully energetic and pattern-dappled work, depicts the edge of a lake, set with two small cabins that we see through a screen of trees. A Thomson-esque composition, the foreground trees are placed in our very near field of view, tangled and wild, they almost obscure the scene beyond. It is only on full examination that we see the structures, as our attention is initially drawn by other aspects of the composition. Despite the title of the work, we also see what appears to be a cascade of falling snow at the right, bright daubs of white against the blue of the lake and among the tangle of tree branches. Late spring snow – even summer snow – is typical of our Canadian climate, and an occurrence that painters found added not just a challenge, but variety to their scenery. The contrast of the bright green of new leaves to wet, almost clumpy spring snow appears as a steady theme in Canadian landscape painting.
This work is the study for the larger canvas Spring, shown at the Royal Canadian Academy Exhibition in 1940. Carmichael was a master at depicting weather effects, his small studies of snowfall, rain showers, and sunlight gleams, prove not only his skill in this area, but the frequency with which he encountered such conditions. Expressionist, impressionist, and in places almost pointillist, it is in studies such as this that we see Carmichael solidifying a uniquely Canadian style of art.