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HARRIS, Lawren Stewart (1885-1970)
Recent auction results 24-11-08 Nerke, Greenland 12 x 15 $1,928,624 USD 23-11-07 Grey Day, Lake Superior 40 x 52 $1,658,756 USD 25-05-06 Mount Lefroy 12 x 15 $1,551,740 USD
Lawren Stewart Harris was born on October 23, 1885 to Thomas Morgan Harris and Annie J. Stewart (daughter of pastor William Boyd Stewart) in Brantford, Ontario into a wealthy family – the Harrises of the Massey-Harris industrialists.
He attended Central Technical School and St. Andrew's College. From age 19 (1904 to 1908) he studied in Berlin. He was interested in philosophy and Eastern thought. Later, he became involved in Theosophy and joined the Toronto Lodge of the International Theosophical Society.
Lawren went on to marry Beatrice (Trixie) Phillips on January 20, 1910, and together had three children born in the first decade of their marriage. Soon after meeting and becoming friends with J. E. H. MacDonald in 1911, they together formed the Group of Seven. He financed the construction of a studio building in Toronto with friend Dr. James MacCallum. The Studio provided artists with cheap or free space where they worked.
In 1918 and 1919, Harris with J. E. H. MacDonald financed boxcar trips for the artists of the Group of Seven to the Algoma region. Another painting trip after Algoma was to Lake Superior's North Shore with A.Y. Jackson. Harris was so passionate about the North Shore and fascinated by the theosophical concept of nature, he returned annually for the next seven years. There he developed the style he is best known for.
Harris’s paintings in the early 1920s were characterized by rich, decorative colours that were applied thick, in painterly impasto. He painted landscapes around Toronto, Georgian Bay and Algoma. His first trip to the Rockies in 1924 soon became annual, too, for the next three years. In 1930, Harris’s landscape paintings became simplified as he sailed with A.Y. Jackson aboard a supply ship.
Several members of the Group of Seven later became members of the Canadian Group of Painters including Harris, A. J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, A. Y. Jackson, and Franklin Carmichael.
Harris died in Vancouver in 1970, a well-known artist. He was buried on the grounds of the McMichael Art Gallery, where his work is now held.