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|Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald (1890 – 1956) was one of Canada's most important artists.
After the death in 1932 of J.E.H. MacDonald, founding member of the Group of Seven,
Fitzgerald was asked to join the group as MacDonald's replacement, becoming
the last artist to join the group. The following year in 1933 Fitzgerald and
the other members formed the Canadian Group of Painters. He was a member of the CGP
until his death in 1956.
Fitzgerald produced Christmas greeting prints from at least 1923 to 1947. He began printing them in this particular format and style in 1931 and continued until 1947. For some time after Fitzgerald died these prints were thought to be wood engravings. However, the linoleum blocks were found and the prints re-categorized. It was an easy mistake to make because of the skill of the artist, and because he was using engraving tools to cut them and an etching press, ink, & paper to print them.
“Linocut is not a refined medium but due to his precision and control Fitzgerald created
austere and delicate works.”
Everything in the night-time images glows luminously from light sources that are not seen, only inferred from a thousand tiny flecks of light. Or is it snowing? In COY 90 the shadow of a tree in the night stretches across the street and up the hill on the far side of the road. These are all city scenes - presumed to be Winnipeg, Manitoba - although there are no people on the sidewalks or visible in the buildings. The branches of the trees sway, split, and cross each other in microscopic detail. These are true artist prints from the hands of a master artist, and tiny gems of Canadian art. These impressions were printed in small, unnumbered editions, and given to friends and acquaintances as Christmas cards. Impressions of these are seldom available for purchase, let alone in a group like this.
This series of impressions was printed on buff wove paper, with a laid pattern. All impressions are beautifully signed in pencil by Fitzgerald, typically "Greetings - Vally & Lemoine Fitzgerald". Alternate greetings are "Christmas 1941" and "Merry Christmas - 1946". The first print is matted and framed, the rest are loose. Additional folds of the paper & inscriptions are not shown except COY 85. The impression of COY 86 is an advanced state from that noted in the book, with additional detailing on the central chimney and to the brick wall on the left.
LEFT - RIGHT:
COY 85: Jug on a Windowsill 1940 (matted & framed)
COY 86: Arts Buildings, University of Manitoba 1941
COY 89: Apples on Windowsill 1944
COY 90: Trees and Houses 1945
COY 91: View of City through a Window 1946