Auctioneers and Appraisers

Lawren Stewart Harris (Canadian, 1885-1970) Abstraction






American & European Works of Art - 2977B
Date / Time :
January 27, 2017 4:00PM


Lawren Stewart Harris (Canadian, 1885-1970)

Signed "LAWREN/HARRIS" l.l., identified and dated "1939 New Mexico/Member of the Transcendental Paint Movement located in Santa Fe/..." on an unattributed gummed label affixed to the reverse, and with a partial typed label on the reverse bearing a quote from Dane Rudhyar, and a small foil label from the 1939 World's Fair of San Francisco Bay also on the reverse.
Oil on panel, 23 1/2 x 17 5/8 in. (60.0 x 45.0 cm), framed.
Condition: Fine vertical crack to panel surface on the right side, natural pigment fluorescence.

N.B. The Transcendental Painting Group (TPG) was comprised of New Mexico artists dedicated to the promotion of abstract and non-objective art. Their stated purpose in their manifesto was "to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world through new concepts of space, color, light and design, to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual." The group exhibited actively between 1938 and 1942. Members included Raymond Jonson, Emil Bisttram, Lawren Harris, Ed Garman, Robert Gribbroek, William Lumpkins, Agnes Pelton, Florence Miller Pierce, Horace Towner Pierce, and Stuart Walker. Dane Rudhyar and Alfred Morang may also have been members. Works by Emil Bisttram are included in this auction as Lots 429 and 437.
Estimate $2,500-3,500

There is also a press card made out to "Lindsay Arthur/Call-Bulletin" for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition inserted in a small envelope affixed to the frame. The San Francisco Call Bulletin was a daily newspaper published between 1929 and 1959.

Provenance: The consignor reports that the work was acquired by his great aunt, Mary McNeill, of West Minster, British Columbia, and has descended in his family. The family does not know when or where the work was acquired by Mary McNeill, nor do they know Lindsay Arthur, whose press pass is affixed to the back of the frame.

The painting is on a lightweight wood panel. When the work was unframed, it showed some very slight bowing to upper corners, and some very minor frame abrasion. The crack is very fine in width and is located 4 inches in from the right side, running the length of the panel. It could easily be construed as a pencil line, but there is a small break to the painted surface along its length. There is a second minor vertical crack to the signature area measuring 1 1/2 inches. The back of the work bears a black stencil "LRV" and "FH" in red, and "LINK UP [upwards arrow]" in green along one edge. It also bears a geometric pencil sketch consisting of a large grid crossed by some diagonal lines and arcs, with some pigment highlights. No additional condition issues to report.

Dimensions of the frame are 25 3/16 x 19 1/2 inches.

Regarding the San Francisco World's Fair, independent scholar Anne Schnoebelen has written to say that art exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition, as the fair is rightly called, is difficult to track down and document, because there were temporary exhibits ongoing at the fair, as well as semi-permanent shows for which catalogs were published. Lawren Harris was among the individuals chosen to select art for the Contemporary Art exhibition at the GGIE. He exhibited two paintings in that exhibition, but unfortunately the descriptions do not match the painting at hand. It remains possible that this work was exhibited in a temporary exhibition, perhaps with other Transcendental Paintings Group members.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Stuart Walker, Robert Gribbroek, Horace Towner Pierce, Agnes Pelton, Alfred Morang, Stewart Harris, Agnes Lawrence Pelton, Dane Rudhyar, Emil Bisttram, Florence Miller Pierce, Lawren Harris, Raymond Jonson, Visual arts, William Lumpkins