The central element of this landscape is a broad-branched evergreen that occupies the upper half of the painting. In front of the tree is a mound of white rocks surrounded by bushes. A woman and a man are sketchily rendered in the lower right corner.

Daniel Fowler

(Champion Hill, England, 1810 – Amherst Island, Ontario, 1894)

 

Evergreen and Rocks

1877

Watercolour on paper mounted on card

23.5 x 33 cm

Gift of Ernest C. Gill, 1966

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 09-034

Photo: Bernard Clark


With its dynamic composition and expressive brushstrokes that lend movement to the plant motifs, Evergreen and Rocks reflects the vibrancy of nature. At the centre, an imposing evergreen, its top cropped by the tight framing, dominates the composition and blocks the horizon, creating the work’s originality. Setting himself apart from the vast romantic panoramas painted by his contemporaries Allan Edson and Lucius O'Brien, Daniel Fowler adopted a more modern treatment of landscape, sensitive yet not idealized, that speaks of close contact with nature.


The watercolour painter Daniel Fowler began his career in Britain before immigrating to the future province of Ontario, in 1843. For fifteen years he gave up art to devote himself to farming on Amherst Island. When he took up watercolours again, in 1858, he developed a distinctive style, freer than in his early works. He painted from nature and used colour to create structure. Recognized in his lifetime as Canada’s finest watercolourist, Fowler was the first Canadian painter to win an international award, a bronze medal honouring Hollyhocks (1869) at the Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition of 1876.

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