Auctioneers are hoping to fetch at least six figures for a 1962 painting by B.C. artist E. J. Hughes entitled Revelstoke and Mount Begbie at a Nov. 24 art auction in Toronto.
Auction house Heffel has included the painting amongst 179 for auction at their fall ‘Fine Canadian Art Auction.’
E. J. Hughes was a prominent B.C. painter whose ‘stylized realism’ paintings depicting the province and its landscapes propelled him to the height of artistic achievement here.
He’s had major exhibits featured at the Vancouver Art Gallery and has been awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C.
The painting is based on a sketch done by Hughes in 1958. It appears his vantage point is somewhere on the way up the trail leading from town to the Nels Nelsen ski jump.
The auction house publicists sent out extensive information on the auction and Hughes’ works. If you’re interested in the work (or maybe bidding on it) here’s more on the oil painting, as provided in the auction catalogue:
Lot # 056
EDWARD JOHN (E.J.) HUGHES
BCSFA CGP OC RCA 1913 – 2007 Canadian
Revelstoke and Mount Begbie
oil on canvas,
signed and on verso signed, titled, dated 1962 and stamped Dominion Gallery
24 x 35 in, 61 x 88.9 cm
Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Estate of R. Fraser Elliott, Toronto
Private Collection, Victoria
Leslie Allan Dawn and Patricia Salmon, E.J. Hughes: The Vast and Beautiful Interior, Kamloops Art Gallery, 1994, a similar 1961 canvas entitled Eagle Pass at Revelstoke reproduced page 42
Ian M. Thom, E.J. Hughes, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2002, page 143
Beginning in 1956, E.J. Hughes undertook a number of sketching trips to the Interior of British Columbia, and captured the unique nature of this landscape. Based on Vancouver Island, Hughes was already well known for his stunning West Coast landscapes. The work produced from his Interior trips further established him as one of Canada’s finest landscape painters – an artist whose work was rooted in British Columbia but universal in its unique perception and vision of nature. In the summer of 1958, on a Canada Council Fellowship, Hughes traveled to the Okanagan Valley around Penticton and, for the first time, further east to Revelstoke.
While there, Hughes made detailed graphite sketches of the landscape so that he could execute paintings in the studio later, as would be the case with this fine painting. As Hughes explained, “I have found that I have now reached a stage where I can do my oils directly from my original little pencil drawings.” He had an elaborate system of coded colour notes that aided him in recreating the scene in oil when back in his studio.
In Revelstoke and Mount Begbie, typical of his approach to landscape, he chose a broad vista, establishing a hillside vantage point over the town and across to the towering mountains. Although the scene is lofty, Hughes grounded his viewpoint through the inclusion of the pine tree on the left and the tops of bushes at his feet. Below, brightly coloured rooftops and houses establish the warmth of human presence in the town overlooking the meandering Columbia River. Hughes strikes a harmonious balance between raw nature and human presence; the viewer has a sense that, in spite of the mass of the mountains and the wilderness pressing at its edges, people are living comfortably in the immensity.
Hughes’s work of the 1960s is sought after for its rich and deep colour palette and intensity of image. In this beautiful canvas, the deep blues and greens of the forested mountain flanks are contrasted with vivid spots of hot reds, orange and ochre on the buildings in the town. In contrast to the dark density of the mountains, Hughes creates brightness through the turquoise water of the river, the brilliant white of snow peaks and the cool radiance of the overcast sky. In this finely detailed canvas, Hughes creates many points of interest – reflections in the river, the driftwood on its small island and the architectural details of the town’s buildings. Many calculations go into making this work visually interesting in every part of the image, such as the shifts in scale from the details of the town to the immensity of the mountain. In atmosphere, Hughes’s image, illuminated by a cool and even light, has a stillness only broken by the flow of the river. It is a scene captured in a serene moment, dominated by the timeless eminence of the mountains. Hughes must have found this view of Revelstoke compelling, as in 1961 he painted another major canvas, Eagle Pass at Revelstoke, from a slightly different vantage point.
Revelstoke and Mount Begbie embodies Hughes’s keen perception of British Columbia’s “vast and beautiful Interior” – the apt title of the Kamloops Art Gallery’s 1994 exhibition of his Interior work. This majestic panorama was once in the collection of the late Roy Fraser Elliott, a well-known Canadian lawyer and philanthropist. He was recognized as one of Canada’s foremost collectors of both historical and contemporary Canadian and European art.