Douglas Lawley, 1906-1971


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Winter in the Country | Douglas Lawley

Winter in the Country | Douglas Lawley

Oil on Canvas Panel
Size: 20" x 24"
Price: SOLD

Details: Oil on Canvas artist panel. Signed lower left.
Framed, measures 28 X 32 inches
Provenance: Private Collection, Florida; Dominion Gallery, Montreal

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

 

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Farm Scene | Douglas Lawley

Farm Scene | Douglas Lawley

Oil on Canvas Panel
Size: 16" x 20"
Price: SOLD

Details: Oil on Canvas artist panel. Signed lower left.
Framed, measures 20 X 24 inches
Provenance: Private Collection, Florida.

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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Birches, Baie St. Paul | Douglas Lawley

Birches, Baie St. Paul | Douglas Lawley

Oil on Canvas Board
Size: 20" x 24"
Price: SOLD

Details: Oil on Canvas Board. Signed lower right.
Verso: Handwritten title, "J.D. Lawley" signature and sketch of a horse.
Framed, measures  about 26 X 30 inches
Provenance: Private Collection.

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On The Beach, Sable Island | Douglas Lawley

On The Beach, Sable Island | Douglas Lawley

Oil on Artist Board
Size: 9" x 12"
Price: SOLD

Details: Oil on Artist Board. Signed lower right.
Verso: Handwritten title and "J.D. Lawley 440 Mount Stephen Ave., Westmount". Artist board and frame inscribed with numbers: 229 394  200.
Framed, measures  15 X 17.5 inches
Provenance: Private Collection.

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Douglas Lawley had a passion as an artist:
painting the wild horses of Sable Island

 

Biography

John Douglas Lawley was born in 1906 in Glace Bay, N.S.

After attending Mount Allison and McGill universities, Douglas Lawley began his career as a teacher, specializing in Latin. He settled in Montreal, marrying in 1927.

Douglas Lawley first became interested in painting in 1937, studying under Agnes Lefort in Montreal and also studying at the American National Academy.

Douglas Lawley – he signed his paintings LAWLEY – painted two main subjects, both sought after by collectors.

Montreal Cab Drivers

The first subject shows scenes in and around Montreal, particularly focusing on the colourfully-dressed cab drivers and horses that carried people around Mount Royal. Winter scenes depict horse-drawn sleighs, while others show horse-drawn carriages.

The second subject was the wild ponies on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Douglas Lawley did extensive research into the Sable Island ponies, whose origins have had different histories over the years.

The artist finally received permission from the Canadian government to visit the island (the government maintains a weather station on the island).

According to accounts, Douglas Lawley flew over the island several times before landing to see the ponies up close. He then did a series of paintings of the ponies, who wandered freely among the giant sand dunes and clean beaches of the uninhabited island (except for those maintaining the weather station).

Sable Island Paintings

In April 1962, Douglas Lawley’s first one-man show featuring the Sable Island paintings was exhibited at Montreal’s Dominion Gallery, which continued to represent him.

His Sable Island ponies are simple in composition, tracing the movements of the wild horses across the white sands and grassy sand dunes. The strong colours of the deep blue water and voluminous white clouds provide context and contrast to the ponies.

As a painter, Douglas Lawley seemed to keep apart from the art scene in Montreal and Canada; he wasn’t a member of artist associations.

However, he is considered one of Nova Scotia’s best artists, and interest in his works has slowly grown in the Maritimes and other parts of Canada.

And Douglas Lawley’s Sable Island paintings hold a special place in Canadian art history.

Douglas Lawley died in Montreal in 1971.

***

Douglas Lawley’s interest in the Sable Island ponies pre-dated modern studies of the feral horses, which have been called ponies because of their small size.

The Canadian government, worried about their dwindling numbers (there’s only several hundred), officially declared the Sable Island National Park Reserve in 2011. Nova Scotia made the ponies the province’s official horse in 2008. Today, several hundred tourists are allowed to visit the island each year – a controversial practice.

Sources:
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database.

Wikipedia entry on Sable Island Horse.

Halifax Chronicle Herald article Sable horses inspire New York photographer’s exhibit in Halifax, Jun 6, 2014. Retrieved online Oct. 5, 2014.