CANADIAN PRAIRIE WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES

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VISITORS WEST

C. W. JEFFERYS. Rain in the Foothills, 1924. Edmonton Art Gallery collection

CHARLES WILLIAM JEFFERYS, b. Rochester, Kent, England, 1869 - d. 1951. Jefferys is remembered primarily for his bold illustrations of Canadian history, but he was also an accomplished painter in the English manner, producing sturdy oils and often delicious watercolours. One of the rare artist-visitors who didn't paint the mountains, Jefferys especially loved the Saskatchewan prairie in its many moods, painting at Last Mountain Lake and the Battlefords. (Illingworth Kerr studied under Jefferys at the Ontario College of Art in the late 20s. Jefferys related to him that he loved especially the color of Wolf Willow). Jefferys was the first artist to perceive the unique character of prairie landscape:

... that has no striking topographical shapes, that consists of earth, sky, space, light air, reduced to their simplest elements and baldest features. In this severe austerity, the grasses, the flowers, the shrubs, claim our attention, attract the eye and assert their individual charms. Vision becomes subtly discriminating, compares hues, tones, colors, all of them within a narrow range of what the artist calls values; yet under this compulsory and refines analysis, revealing an astonishing variety...

Rain in the Foothills is painted in the classic English manner, reminiscent above all (and to its great credit) of Cotman.


TERRY FENTON