CANADIAN PRAIRIE WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES

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VISITORS WEST

LUCIUS O'BRIEN, Untitled (British Columbia Rain Forest), 1887

LUCIUS RICHARD O'BRIEN, b. Shanty Bay, Upper Canada 1832, d .Toronto,1899). O'Brien was considered the country's most proficient landscapist, in both oil and watercolour. One of the first artists to capture the scenic variety of the new country, he painted in Ontario and Quebec, on Grand Manan and along the Atlantic seaboard and, sponsored by the CPR, in the Rockies and along the Pacific. O'Brien was one of the first artists to make use of the CPR passes made available to artists by William Van Horne. Many of his landscapes are distinguished by a sense of light similar to that in paintings by Albert Bierstadt and the American "luminists," but his use of watercolours remains firmly in the English tradition. The painting of a rain forest was probably done on or as a result of his first trip west in 1887. It's a n outstanding example of an exhibition watercolour, carefully done, richly detailed. The subject is an example of the sublime -- man rendered insignificant by overpowering nature yet poised to conquer.


TERRY FENTON