Arthur Lismer

Sackville River 1916,

oil on board
9 x 12 in

Ex. Collection Mr. Jim Palmer, Calgary
Private collection, Vancouver, B.C.

Exhibited: Arthur Lismer: Nova Scotia, 1916-1919, 2 December 1982 - 9 January 1983,
Catalogue #2, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This exhibition of paintings and drawings by Arthur Lismer was centred around the years the artist lived and worked in Bedford, Nova Scotia where he was Principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD University).

Our Sackville River sketch from 1916 relates to the canvas of the same title in the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

In 1916, Arthur Lismer moved from Toronto to Halifax to take the position of principal at the Victoria School of Art and Design. Lismer’s tenure as principal had a great livening effect on the art school and art community in Halifax. Even with the concerns of the school to occupy him, Lismer devoted much energy to his painting. While working at the art school, Lismer lived in Bedford, then regarded as a bucolic resort town, and commuted into Halifax by train. The house where Lismer lived with his wife Esther and daughter Marjorie still stands—a modest Victorian home that overlooks the Sackville River in the old part of town.

According to curator Patrick Condon Laurette, Sackville River 1917, may be seen as a homage to Tom Thomson, who died the same year as the canvas was painted. Our mesmerizing oil sketch, with its thick application of colour, presents a close-up view of a river, focusing on the movement of the water rather than a panoramic vista of the landscape.

Arthur Lismer left Nova Scotia in 1919 to return to Toronto where, the following year, the Group of Seven was born.

Sources:
Kelly, Gemey. Arthur Lismer, Nova Scotia, 1916-1919. Dalhousie Art Gallery, 1982.
Soucy, Donald and Harold Pearse, The First Hundred Years: A History of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1993.