Study, Amherst Island
Daniel Fowler (1810 1894) was a preeminent Canadian artist of the latter nineteenth century and arguably one of the best watercolourists to have worked and lived in Canada. Although he lived in relative artistic seclusion on a farm on Amherst Island, in Lake Ontario near Kingston, his work was seen and admired in Canadian exhibitions and he was acknowledged by his peers. He was a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1872 and a charter member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880. He received medals for watercolour at the International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, England, in 1886. This study was made in preparation for a larger work commissioned by Major Robert Perceval Maxwell, then owner of much of Amherst Island, where Fowler lived. According to the inscription, Fowler gave it to close friend and Amherst Island land agent William H. Moutray in 1890. It is likely a view across Stella Bay towards property owned by Perceval Maxwell, and where Moutray lived. It represents Fowler’s mature period in the 1870s when he frequently painted scenes from around the island and in the open air. Two particular techniques are evident in this example: Fowler’s use of darkly drawn lines to help provide structure to washes of colour (taught to him by Edward Lear), as well as a scraping away of paint to reveal white highlights underneath.