Clare Leighton (1898 - 1989)

Resting, 1931

SKU: 5713
Signed by artist’s nephew, titled
Print of original woodblock
9 1/8 x 11 in. (23 x 28 cm)

Size:
Height – 23cm
Width – 28cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artist’s Estate; Private collection
Presentation:
folio
In 1931 Clare had the opportunity to spend some time in a lumber camp on the Quebec-Ontario border.  She had read Louis Hémon’s French Canadian classic ‚ÄúMaria
Chapdelaine‚Äùas an introduction to life in rural Quebec. The contrast between sparkling white snow and the darkness of the dense Canadian woods seemed especially suited to her favourite medium, and people at work had always been a favoured subject. At first the men of the camp were suspicious of this lone woman.  However, when she hid any fear at the howling of wolves and shared the men’s food and some of their hardships she won their respect. They told hertheir fantastic tales of Paul Bunyan, ‚Äúthe god of the lumberjacks‚Äù, and she was able to make numerous pencil sketches and notes. Clare’s diary, written at the time and copied word-forword below, shows her first impressions in a peculiarly immediate form. These notes and the sketches were the basis for her subsequent engravings on the boxwood blocks. The prints depict the lumberjacks’ life at a time when the only power in the remote forest lay in the muscles of men and horses.
February 16th, 1931:
Took the train to Gracefield. Men in thick fur
coats. Everybody knew each other – snow
everywhere – queer patches of yellow ochre
on the lakes where the snow was melting and
marking a thaw. The hills’ curves showing
simply, the sky dead blue-grey. Stopped at
every station. When we reached Gracefield,
passing dumps of logs etc., Mr Gray the
overseer was on the same train and met me.
A snowmobile met us and we drove through
this sunless white to a hotel a mile off where
we had a substantial meal – soup, masses of
meat, potatoes, turnips and pie.
There were wonderful characters there –
“jobbers” Рin torn wool and thick boots.
They came up to Mr Gray and wanted jobs.
One old French Canadian of 83 wanted to
sell us axe handles. They all talked a strange
French. After our hefty meal we started – this
time in a “team” Рtwo horses harnessed to a
belled sleigh – covered ourselves with
bearskins and set off for a 26-mile run to take
4 hours. Past rolling hills and fields of snow,
the road very rough and each time we passed
a pit in the road we were severely shaken.
Had wonderful feeling of ecstasy, the two
horses’ rumps and tails flailing in front of us.
Passed several broken-down settlements and
saw large hills covered with trees in the
distance. Through the “bush” of fir trees and
birch. Saw marks of deer and fox and rabbits.
Saw a deer. The trees were weighed down
with snow – the snow would be about three
feet in height – and some of the stumps were
looking like big night-caps. It would be in
occasional lumps on the fir trees and
weighing down the branches. Up and down
hills, past many little snow-covered lakes.
At last, at 5, we reached the depot. My room
was small and bare and clean. I tidied and
had a talk in the kitchen with the cook and
his wife and the maid in French. Supper of
meat and beans and potatoes and pie galore.
Mr Mansell the clerk and a Norwegian youth
were also at supper. I felt very solitary; talked
about nothing. It appears there are wolves’
howls to be heard at night. Got very sleepy
from the marvellous air.
February 17th:
Slept soundly; wakened by people in house at
5. Dead, heavy, leaden sky and snow falling.
Left at 8.15 for ‚ÄúHatey’s Camp‚Äù. Drove
through the bush with all the fir trees
outlined in white and heavy. Abundant
shapes on the stumps.
Passed some finished log cabins and crossed
over an ice lake; to my horror it was all
slushy and the horses’ feet sank in. However,
Mr Gray said it was all right and we survived,
but it was an experience. At 10.15 we arrived
at Hatey’s camp – a clump of log cabins with
heavy snow on top and icicles dripping down 

about six feet. We sat inside the office and I
talked to fat, pleasant Mr Hatey and a strange,
handsome clerk called Pat. All the men’s hair
needed cutting and in some cases it fell down
to their necks – nearly all French and wearing
check windbreakers. I drew the bunks and
the stove and the figures – everyone was so
amazingly good-natured. We ate with the
men in another hut, with tin mugs and tin
plates and a longer tin jug of tea. One plate
served for soup, pork, tomato sauce and
prunes and cake. There was heaps to eat and
wonderful roses on the oilcloth tablecloth.
Hatey and Mr Gray and Pat were there, and
the fat maiden who cooked. Always quantities
of strong tea. After dinner we inspected the
“dump” Рthousands of logs on the lake.
I drew them until the snow got too bad.
Saw several teams of lumberjacks who had
broken camp. Pigs and a cow and many dogs.
Then went across another lake up to see them
“loading”. Drew it and photographed it. Then
back to the lake and watched them “landing”.
Then went back with Pat and Hatey and had
tea and left. Came across more frighteningly
slushy lakes. Got back – all the way in slight
snow – just at dusk. Don’t forget the little fir
trees marking the road across the lake; if one
stepped on the snow part one would have
sunk.
February 18th:
Dark, grey day – snow falling. An unearthly
quiet. Went to office and then started off for
a high-up dump. We drove in the opposite
direction past woods even more beautiful
with snow. Crossed Eagle River on a little
bridge, drove about six miles, up very steep
hills that the ponies could hardly take. Passed
several “skidways” of logs on river bank.
Finally in snow I drew quick sketches of logs
etc. Back to lots of lunch.
In the afternoon walked down to lake to
watch ice being cut. Looked at dam and on
the way got up to over my knees in snow.
I realised the cruelty of snow. The men were
starting with the ice, cutting the key block.
It was almost two and a half feet deep and a
beautiful pale blue in colour, with slush on
top. Came back in their cart, standing,
keeping balanced. Snow the entire time.
I couldn’t work. Came back to office and met
Mr Hatey again, then went on snow-shoes
across the fields. Tripped several times and
fell deep in the snow. Always snowing. Came
back to house and tidied and changed.
February 19th:
Wakened late – still snowing unceasingly.
Telephoned to the Eric Brains (friends) then
went for a walk alone through the bush and
drew some shapes of snow on tree stumps.
Heard voices through the trees and tracked
down on skidway and drew it as well as I
could with the snow falling upon me. Back on
the sleigh to the clearing and up to the depot,
then wandered around and drew icicles and
sleigh. After dinner drew men’s sleigh
returning. Then walked out to the bush and
picked up two men who selected a large pine
and watched them cut it down. First they
axed it at the side it was to fall, then sawed it
and then, with a huge heave, it fell aslant on
to balsams etc. Mr Gray held an umbrella over
me so that I could draw it in the snow, and
placed a bed of balsam boughs for me to sit
on. I drew all stages of it. They then slashed at
the boughs and proceeded to limb it. I drew
that excitedly. Then they sawed it into logs –
up to their knees in the snow.
Then we drove to the lake where they cut ice.
Mr Gray helped while one of the men held
my umbrella. I drew them. We drove back to
the pathetic fallen tree (it had moved me
strangely to see it fall like that) and Mr Gray
made my bed and held the umbrella while I
made a study of the trunk and boughs.
We walked back to the depot and arrived
worn and tired.
 
Quoted in Clare Leighton, The Growth and Shaping of An Artist-Writer, p. 37-45, Published by The Estate of Clare Leighton.

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THE ARTIST

Clare Leighton
Clare
Leighton
1898 - 1989

Clare Leighton attended the Brighton School of Art (1915), the Slade School of Fine Art (1921’23) and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Despite her childhood nickname ‘The Bystander’, she became a hugely visible artist on both sides of the Atlantic, and her vast oeuvre includes engravings, paintings, bookplates, illustrations and stained glass. Her twelve plates for Wedgwood, New England Industries, 1952, are amongst her best-known work.

She exhibited with the SWE in London (1923) and at the 1934 Venice Biennale ‘ attaining full membership to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in the same year. She also made several tours of the United States, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1945. By the time of her death, Leighton had authored twelve books and made over 840 prints.

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The Lord Reigneth BPL 655, 1952
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The Nativity
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The Reverend Hill Walks Away, BPL500, 1942
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Angels and Trumpets, The Vision Splendid, BPL 762 1965
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Those were Rolling Hills (Kentucky Scene), BPL 566 1944
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Watermill, BPL 496 1942
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In the Beginning, BPL 716 1955
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Lopping, The Book of Proverbs, BPL 210 1933
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The Darking Thrush, Hardy Shepherds, (Thomas Hardy), BPL 774b 1965
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“Some Better Country” (Time of Man), BPL 580 1944
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Singing, BPL 723 1957
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I went by the field (Psalms), BPL 667 1952
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Both Man & Bird & Beast, BPL 718 1955
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The Book of Ecclesiastics, BPL 669
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Reading, Writing, Speaking, BPL 730 1959
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God’s Familiars, Earth is the Lord’s, Gods Familiar, BPL 764 1965
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Shells & Seaweed, BPL 680 1954
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Flowers on a hilltop near a bay
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“Where Land Meets Sea” (Coastline is the catalogues title, The Beach is the title of the chapter), BPL 707
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Hog-Killing Girl, aka After the Hog Killing, aka Woman Carrying Binbath, BPL 515 1942
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Tulip Poplar Bud BPL 517 1942
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The Flowering Hawthorn BPL 749 1962
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The Cello Player, BPL 722, circa 1957
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View from Whiteleaf Cross, BPL 256
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The House at Phillips Place, BPL 577
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A herd of goats
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Ellen and Her Children (BPL578), 1944
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Smoke House, BPL 505 1942
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Scarecrow, BPL 548 1942
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Hog Killing, BPL 514 1942
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Rounding Cornwall BPL 747 1962
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The Sleep of the Labouring Man BPL 671 1952
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Cinnamon Fern, BPL 508 1942
Clare Leighton (1898 - 1989)
Religion, BPL 583 1944
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Winter (BPL 571) 1944
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Hog Killing, 1942
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The Village, BPL 227 1933
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I know all the Fowls, (BPL 650)
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PrefaceCape Cod Road (Herring River and Wellfleet Harbor), BPL673
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Whaling from the New England Industries, late 1940’s
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All Instruments, BPL 721
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Farmer and Statue of Liberty, 1930’s
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Ship Wreck, BPL 696
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Concert of Music, BPL 726
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He Maketh the Barren Women, BPL 658
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The Journey, 1946 (BP 597)
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Book with quill pen and ink bottle
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Fishermen & Nets, (BPL 615)
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Who Shall Ascend, (BPL 646)
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The Magic of Handling Earth (BPL 488), By Light of Sun, circa 1941
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Alabama Hog Pen (BPL 518)
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Trillium (BPL 522), 1942
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Fishing (chapter header) (BPL 689)
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Apple Butter (BPL 523), Top Potential
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I Was Just Thinking (BPL 729), 1958
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Travelling (BPL 732)
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Louisiana Pilgrimage (BPL 525), 1942
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He Brought Streams, (BPL 653) Psalms, circa 1952
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Frontispiece Ellen… (BPL 564), 1944
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Charm Me Asleep (BPL 758), Music & Dreams, 1962
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Cotton Picker (BPL 491), Cotton Frontispiece, 1942
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Lovers In the Wheat field (BPL 570), 1944
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To Everything There Is a Season, Psalms (BPL 670)
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The Berry Picker (BPL 701)
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Building The First Church (BPL 748), Flowering Hawthorn
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Cranberry Bogs (BPL 684),
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In The Morning Sow Thy Seed (BPL 672), 1952
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Watchers Of The Sky (BPL 719), 1955
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I Cried With My Whole Heart (BPL 659) Psalms
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The Reaper (BPL 221), 1933
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The Sluggard Will Not Plow (BPL 666) Psalms
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Jasper’s Hog Pen (BPL 574 )
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He That Gathereth (BPL 665) Psalms, 1952
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Marble Quarrying, BPL604, 1949-50
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BPL 664 Hear ye children (BPL664) Psalms, circa 1952
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Out of the depths – (BPL 662) 1952
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Logging, BPL 608, 1949-50
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Tobacco Growing, BPL614, 1949-50
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Farming, BPL609, 1949-50
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Maple Sugaring, BPL610, 1949-50
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Ice Cutting, BPL607, 1949-50
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Miller (BPL 497)
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Cod Fishing, BPL613, 1949-50
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The letter ‘S’ from The Farmer’s Year, 1933
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The letter ‘M’ from The Farmer’s Year, 1933
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The letter ‘R’ from The Farmer’s Year, 1933
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The letter ‘G’ from The Farmer’s Year, 1933
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The Farmer’s Year, 1933