Bryan Adams Donates Most Important Painting of Emily Carr's Early Career to the National Gallery of Canada
Ottawa, Canada - February 21, 2001
"Bryan Adams Donates Most Important Painting of Emily Carr's Early Career to the National Gallery of Canada"
Canadians know Bryan Adams as one of Canada's most popular singers/songwriters, an artist who has topped the world charts for 20 years. However, only a very few know that Bryan Adams also collects the work of Emily Carr, the compelling and extremely important Canadian artist from the first half of the 20th century. It is with great pleasure that the National Gallery of Canada announces today the recent acquisition of Emily Carr's The Welcome Man, 1913, a gift from Bryan Adams.
"Emily Carr plays a major historic role in Canada's west coast culture and is, by far, one of its most interesting painters," says Mr. Adams. "I have a few of her paintings, and a large collection of her pottery as well. I decided to donate The Welcome Man to the National Gallery because it's a spectacular home for her work, and I felt the painting deserved the honour of hanging among other great Canadian masterpieces, such as the work of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven."
Emily Carr began to produce her first mature paintings at the age of 40, in 1912. Determined to paint the homes, totem poles, and villages of the First Nations of the West Coast, that summer, she travelled north from Vancouver to Alert Bay, visited the surrounding villages, and then headed up the Skeena River to the Queen Charlotte Islands. After six weeks of travel, she was back in Vancouver. By April 1913, she organized an exhibition of 200 paintings. Sales were few, and the economic recession of the time was exacerbated by the outbreak of war in 1914. For financial reasons, Carr stopped painting until the 1920s.
Emily Carr, The Welcome Man, 1913 is the most important painting from this early stage of Carr's career. Its subject is that of a potlatch sculpture at the village of 'Mi'mkwamlis, near Alert Bay, reaching out across the water in a gesture of welcome. The dark figure stands on the shore, silhouetted against the blue and purple mountains and small islands in the distance. The sky and water are bathed in yellow light from the setting sun. The painting's dramatic effect stayed with Emily Carr for years to come; we know she returned to it in 1928, using it as a reference for Silhouette No. 2, c. 1930-31, an important painting from the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The painting is currently on view in the Canadian galleries, room A 107. Its addition to the permanent collection is a major one, as the National Gallery of Canada owns only four watercolours and three oils from Carr's major production of 1912-1913. The National Gallery of Canada is most grateful to Mr. Bryan Adams for this generous gift to the nation.
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