Written by Harold
Now be honest, how many of you are familiar with A. Y. Jackson’s “Port Radium” collection?
Jackson, a founding member of the Group of Seven, the assemblage of Canadian landscaping painters that was formed in 1920, visited Great Bear Lake from late August to early October in 1938, and again in both 1949 and 1959.
The Eldorado Mining and Refining Company funded these expeditions, and while he spent much of his time in the general vicinity of the Eldorado mine at Port Radium, it appears as though he visited the Dease Arm and Délįnę on at least one occasion.
While there he created a very impressive body of work - click here - which included both a number of sketches, and such paintings as Radium Mine, Northern Landscape - Great Bear Lake, Hills at Great Bear Lake and Radium Mine - Great Bear Lake, which is not to be confused with aforementioned Radium Mine piece.
Sightings of works from the Port Radium Collection are now extremely rare, but in November 2012, Radium Mine, which he composed during his 1938 visit, unexpectedly came up for auction and fetched the rather incredible price of $643,500.
While many are held in private collections, the National Gallery of Canada also holds a number of his works, and over the years have organized exhibitions such as “Terre Sauvage: Canadian Landscape Painting and the Group of Seven,” and “The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation” which showcased some of the items from the Port Radium Collection.
If you would like to learn more about Jackson’s experiences on Great Bear Lake, pick up a copy of his book: A Painter's Country: The Autobiography of A.Y. Jackson.
Think about it for a moment, $643,500 for a painting of Great Bear Lake.
I don’t know about you, but on my next trip to the Bear I’m not going to pack quite as many T 60’s, thereby leaving room in my bag for a sketchbook and some paints…