The Alberni Valley Museum gained an invaluable offering last week when a patron donated an original Emily Carr painting called Sproat Lake (Klitsa Mountain).
The piece is an oil-on-panel completed by the famed British Columbia painter between 1908-1909.
According to museum director Jamie Morton, Carr was likely inspired by the multiple trips she made to the west coast, which included several stays at Klitsa Lodge in the 1920s and 1930s and a visit to an Aboriginal village near Ucluelet in 1899.
While Morton isn’t sure what perspective the painting may have been created from, he thinks it may be a view of Klitsa Lodge from somewhere along Taylor Arm.
Morton is happy to have the piece not only because it depicts a beloved landmark but because this is the first time in years it will be displayed publicly.
“The picture has been in private hands, it hasn’t been in public collections,” said Morton.
The painting was most recently owned by Ralph Tieleman, a Tofino art collector, who donated it to the museum.
If the piece is a little different than the standard Carr piece, Morton said that was because of when it was painted.
“It’s not typically what people think of as an Emily Carr painting, her 1920s, 1930s paintings are more typically what people equate with Carr’s work, but that was after she travelled to France and was influenced by post-impressionists.”
This piece was painted before Carr’s time in France while she was living in Vancouver and teaching art to children in order to make a living.
That 1910 trip was what changed Carr’s style.
“She maintained her interest in landscapes and Aboriginal themes [after the trip] but her style changed significantly.”
While the painting might not be a typical “Emily Carr”, “…it is an iconic view of the Alberni Valley, Sproat Lake and it’s an iconic artist.”
The museum plans to include the painting in another exhibit next fall.
“We’re going to use it as a focus in an exhibit about outdoor recreation in the Alberni Valley,” Morton said.