In this impressionistic painting by Canadian artist Douglas Lawley, two stallions face each other in the foreground while more ponies graze near a sandy beach in the background. This coarsely rendered scene verges towards painterly abstraction and reflects Lawley’s interest in portraying light and shadow through modernist brushstrokes. Its flattened composition reflects the painterly technique adopted by the Canadian Group of Seven and used as a part of their visual language designed to evokeCanadian national identity. Drawing on modernist Canadian painting, Lawley’s works are rooted in nature conservation.This painting of Sable Island, which is a protected Natural Park Reserve located in Nova Scotia, was created with the permission of the Canadian government in 1962.
|Provenance||Private Collection, Vernon, B.C., Canada.|
Douglas Lawley is a Canadian artist whose works are known for their engagement with the Canadian landscape and the importance of nature conservation. His modern landscape paintings are influenced by the distinctive style of the Group of Seven, Canada’s beloved landscape painters. The Group of Seven are known for their rich colors and simplified abstractions of nature. Lawley’s use of flattened compositions and deeply saturated, yet natural, hues evoke the influence of the muted approach to colours championed by the Group of Seven’s youngest member Alfred J Casson.
Born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in 1906, Lawley was a beloved teacher and principal in addition to his painting practice. He graduated from Mount Allison University and then McGill University in Montreal. Lawley pursued his interest in painting as a student of avant-garde artist Agnes Lefort, who was a founding member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, in Montreal. He later studied at the American National Academy with the plein air painter Aldro Hibbard, who is known for his snowy landscapes.
In the 1950s, Nova Scotia’s Sable Island’s wild ponies attracted the attention of Lawley. He visited Sable Island a few times and found there his most important subject matter, these magnificent Sable Island ponies. Even in Lawley’s day, before oil companies took an interest in the area, Sable Island was still a sanctuary for the ponies, access being controlled by the Federal Department of Fisheries. Paintings of these ponies were featured in Lawley’s first solo exhibition held at the Dominion Gallery in 1962. Since that time interest and enthusiasm for paintings by Lawley has grown enormously, particularly in the province of Quebec and throughout the Maritimes. Douglas Lawley’s paintings are represented in numerous private and corporate collections throughout Canada.