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LOT 018

Jean Paul Lemieux

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CC QMG RCA
1904 - 1990
Canadian

Les étoiles
oil on canvas
on verso titled, dated 1966 on the gallery labels and inscribed "Hackney"
30 7/8 x 67 7/8 in, 78.7 x 172.7 cm

CAD

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

PROVENANCE
Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Vancouver, 2003

The first large-scale horizontal work that Jean Paul Lemieux painted is found today in the Royal Collection of His Majesty King Charles III. It is a sensational panorama of Quebec City, four times as long as it is high, and was done as a study for a mural that was never painted. Québec (projet de fresque), begun in 1949 and retouched in 1952, marked the end of Lemieux’s narrative period (1940 – 1949). During the subsequent “classic” period (1956 – 1970), the horizontal format readily broke away from easel-painting standards. Lemieux’s paintings became long windows that opened onto atmospheric landscapes where anonymous figures were set adrift. Les patineurs du soir of 1962 (private collection) and Une journée à la campagne of 1967 (Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec) are examples of pictures less than 30 centimetres high that extend for 175 centimetres or more.

“I found the classical formats boring,” Lemieux told Guy Robert in 1972. “Their proportions did not allow me to get across the sense of horizontality, both its weight and its oppressive effects on [humanity].”[1] Montréal l’hiver (private collection), painted in 1965 and sold by Heffel in 2012, renders the oppressive feel of the urban crowd crammed into a frame three times as long as it is high. On returning from a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in spring 1962, Lemieux adopted a kind of minimalism, with some of his landscapes being essentially three planes of colour on a very large, laterally extended surface.

Les étoiles (The Stars) brilliantly exemplifies that approach with its focus on the nighttime landscape enfolded in that atemporal silence so characteristic of Lemieux’s art. “I know the still of the night well,” he said, “because I often wake up at night and listen to it. Silence for me is looking at a star-filled sky and hearing only the faint rustling of a few leaves.”[2] But in this night scene nothing stirs or whispers; there is only the far-off horizon with its sprinkling of city lights that reply to the scintillation of stars in the sky. That simplicity might seem astonishing to some, yet it is that very economy of detail, that absence of narrative, that opens the way to the kind of interior, intimist landscape at which Lemieux is so accomplished—full to bursting with emotions inside to evoke time slipping away into space.

Note as well that the air of calm infusing a nature broken down to its elemental components is illusory. Look closer and the image springs to life in the brush-strokes that track the painter in action. The dark force field of the diagonal plane makes a clear contrast to the atmospheric and luminous qualities of the snow and the sky. Last of all, the chromatic textures, tones and valances all join to make the expressive power of this great, big, sumptuously iridescent winter landscape.

Compared to Lemieux’s other night scenes from the same period—Chacun sa nuit, 1963; Nuit sans étoile, 1964; Orion, 1967; and Sylvain et les étoiles, 1970, to name a few—Les étoiles has never been properly on public display. Close to 40 years it spent closeted, out of the spotlight. The absence of a signature and date is intriguing, but the painting’s provenance and history were assiduously documented by Madeleine Des Rosiers, Lemieux’s wife, who entrusted its sale in 1966 to the Agnès Lefort Gallery.[3] Les étoiles is still in its original frame of plain wooden baguettes, just as Lemieux asked for from his framer Roland Gastonguay, owner of the Galerie d’art Au Parrain des Artistes in Quebec City. On verso are labels from the Agnès Lefort Gallery and the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, where the painting stopped off before its sale some 20 years ago.

We thank Michèle Grandbois, author of Jean Paul Lemieux au Musée du Québec, for contributing the above essay, translated from the French. This work will be included in Grandbois’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.

1. Quoted in Guy Robert, Lemieux, trans. John David Allan (Toronto: Gage, 1978), 248.

2. Ibid., 194.

3. Fonds Jean Paul Lemieux et Madeleine Des Rosiers, R6612, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business. Bidders must ensure they have satisfied themselves with the condition of the Lot prior to bidding. Condition reports are available upon request.

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23 Nov 2023
Canada
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[ translate ]

CC QMG RCA
1904 - 1990
Canadian

Les étoiles
oil on canvas
on verso titled, dated 1966 on the gallery labels and inscribed "Hackney"
30 7/8 x 67 7/8 in, 78.7 x 172.7 cm

CAD

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

PROVENANCE
Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Vancouver, 2003

The first large-scale horizontal work that Jean Paul Lemieux painted is found today in the Royal Collection of His Majesty King Charles III. It is a sensational panorama of Quebec City, four times as long as it is high, and was done as a study for a mural that was never painted. Québec (projet de fresque), begun in 1949 and retouched in 1952, marked the end of Lemieux’s narrative period (1940 – 1949). During the subsequent “classic” period (1956 – 1970), the horizontal format readily broke away from easel-painting standards. Lemieux’s paintings became long windows that opened onto atmospheric landscapes where anonymous figures were set adrift. Les patineurs du soir of 1962 (private collection) and Une journée à la campagne of 1967 (Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec) are examples of pictures less than 30 centimetres high that extend for 175 centimetres or more.

“I found the classical formats boring,” Lemieux told Guy Robert in 1972. “Their proportions did not allow me to get across the sense of horizontality, both its weight and its oppressive effects on [humanity].”[1] Montréal l’hiver (private collection), painted in 1965 and sold by Heffel in 2012, renders the oppressive feel of the urban crowd crammed into a frame three times as long as it is high. On returning from a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in spring 1962, Lemieux adopted a kind of minimalism, with some of his landscapes being essentially three planes of colour on a very large, laterally extended surface.

Les étoiles (The Stars) brilliantly exemplifies that approach with its focus on the nighttime landscape enfolded in that atemporal silence so characteristic of Lemieux’s art. “I know the still of the night well,” he said, “because I often wake up at night and listen to it. Silence for me is looking at a star-filled sky and hearing only the faint rustling of a few leaves.”[2] But in this night scene nothing stirs or whispers; there is only the far-off horizon with its sprinkling of city lights that reply to the scintillation of stars in the sky. That simplicity might seem astonishing to some, yet it is that very economy of detail, that absence of narrative, that opens the way to the kind of interior, intimist landscape at which Lemieux is so accomplished—full to bursting with emotions inside to evoke time slipping away into space.

Note as well that the air of calm infusing a nature broken down to its elemental components is illusory. Look closer and the image springs to life in the brush-strokes that track the painter in action. The dark force field of the diagonal plane makes a clear contrast to the atmospheric and luminous qualities of the snow and the sky. Last of all, the chromatic textures, tones and valances all join to make the expressive power of this great, big, sumptuously iridescent winter landscape.

Compared to Lemieux’s other night scenes from the same period—Chacun sa nuit, 1963; Nuit sans étoile, 1964; Orion, 1967; and Sylvain et les étoiles, 1970, to name a few—Les étoiles has never been properly on public display. Close to 40 years it spent closeted, out of the spotlight. The absence of a signature and date is intriguing, but the painting’s provenance and history were assiduously documented by Madeleine Des Rosiers, Lemieux’s wife, who entrusted its sale in 1966 to the Agnès Lefort Gallery.[3] Les étoiles is still in its original frame of plain wooden baguettes, just as Lemieux asked for from his framer Roland Gastonguay, owner of the Galerie d’art Au Parrain des Artistes in Quebec City. On verso are labels from the Agnès Lefort Gallery and the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, where the painting stopped off before its sale some 20 years ago.

We thank Michèle Grandbois, author of Jean Paul Lemieux au Musée du Québec, for contributing the above essay, translated from the French. This work will be included in Grandbois’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.

1. Quoted in Guy Robert, Lemieux, trans. John David Allan (Toronto: Gage, 1978), 248.

2. Ibid., 194.

3. Fonds Jean Paul Lemieux et Madeleine Des Rosiers, R6612, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business. Bidders must ensure they have satisfied themselves with the condition of the Lot prior to bidding. Condition reports are available upon request.

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Sale price
Unlock
Estimate
Unlock
Time, Location
23 Nov 2023
Canada
Auction House
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