Emily Carr
(1871-1945)

Throughout her life, Emily Carr’s paintings focused on two great themes: the power of nature as seen in seascapes and rain forests, and the indigenous communities of Canada’s Pacific Coast. Though she studied art abroad in California, Paris and London, she spent most of her life near Victoria, British Columbia, where she was born and where she died. Traveling by boat to remote settlements up and down the coast, she lived with First Nations peoples and documented their village life and totem poles, and the dense Pacific Northwest forest landscape. Though she has been called “the most important British Columbian artist of her generation” by the Vancouver Art Gallery, during her lifetime sales of her paintings were infrequent and she was often distracted from painting by financial necessity; much of her productive time was spent running a boarding house and raising dogs. However, in 1927 her paintings began to be recognized in Ontario and by 1930 she had met the members of the Group of Seven who inspired and encouraged her to rededicate herself to art. In addition to painting, Carr’s creative talent as a writer was also recognized when she received the Governor General’s Award for English-language non-fiction in 1941. Today, Carr is considered one of Canada’s most renowned artists.

Carr’s “Indian Church” (aka “White Church”) is one of the most iconic and treasured paintings in the history of Canadian art. The original painting from 1929, which hangs in the Art Gallery of Ontario, traveled to several international exhibitions between 1930 and 1970, including the Tate Gallery in London in 1938. This work, which captures the spirituality of Canada’s landscape in a manner that was particularly modern when it was painted, has often been discussed as Carr’s embrace of theosophical concepts of God in Nature. It is based on sketches she created in Yuquot in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, home of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people and site of the first contact between English explorers and the British Columbia First Nations. First printed in 1947, the Sampson-Matthews silkscreen is a reproduction of the original painting and was first produced two years after Carr’s death under the direct supervision of A.J. Casson.

Artwork for sale by Emily Carr