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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
James Finlay Fine Art Appraisals

Chapter 7. The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

Recently I was asked by a client to authenticate a pair of framed and matted watercolours which he had purchased some years ago. The matting on each framed work included the words “Emily Carr” centered just below the image.

Unsigned watercolour on paper mounted on cardboard

Unsigned watercolour on paper mounted on cardboard

Description: Both are unsigned watercolour paintings on paper mounted on cardboard, approximate size 7 x 51/2 inches.

Condition: Very good, some very minor discolouration of paper. A typed letter, with signature, attesting to the fact that the paintings were by Emily Carr was attached to the rear of each framed painting.

Iconography: The images possibly depict Northwest Coastal Indian sites as evidenced by the totem poles and the type of house construction.

Ground: The paper is similar to a twice-folded, full-size sheet of standard sized sketch paper and is not of the best quality for the application of watercolour.

Technique: From a stylistic point of view the method used in the application of watercolour paint and the density of the pigment in the binder (water) used is noticably different from that of Emily Carr, however there is some technical similarity to Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, one of her contemporaries, who painted similar subject matter. (F. M. Bell-Smith produced two views of Alert Bay in 1909. One is in the permanent collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the other is in the collection of the B.C. Archives PDP02811).

The preference for the use of strong primary colour, placed almost alla prima on the paper is not in evidence, a technique, that was favoured by Emily Carr from about 1908 to 1912.

In these paintings, light veils of thin wash have been applied to create form and to suggest atmosphere and mood related to a particular place. The result is a rather sombre, melancholic feeling similar to the work from the same period as those of Bell-Smith, however, the attention to detail, quality of rendered form and use of colour is lacking. Bell-Smith’s paintings, Mists and Glaciers in the Selkirks from 1911 and Heart of the Empire from 1909 suggest a proclivity for such atmospheric melancholy.

Historical Context: During the early 20th century several Canadian artists were instrumental in documenting native villages and totem poles throughout the Pacific Northwest Coast and Vancouver Island. Among them, circa 1908-1912 were Emily Carr, Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, and later circa 1922-1929, A.Y. Jackson, George Pepper and Walter J. Phillips. An American artist named Langdon Kihn was also engaged in this pursuit. Stylistically, the known work of these artists does not show any definitive comparison to the images under discussion.

Conclusion: I believe these works were painted by a competent follower of Emily Carr.

Next: The Case of the MS.

 Thu, Aug 31, 2006