FREDERICK ARTHUR VERNER, O.S.A., A.R.C.A.
FISHING BY MOONLIGHT
signed and dated 1875
11.75 ins x 18.75 ins; 30.5 cms x 45.7 cms
It is common knowledge among people who fish that certain times of the day or phases of the moon produce a more plentiful catch of larger fish than other times of the day. Solunar charts exist to help sportsmen time their best opportunity. Sunrise and sunset, when fish are hungry and may be inclined to nibble at just about anything tempting, are notoriously good times to bait your hook.
But in 1875, when this work was executed, such charts did not yet exist. One learnt when and where to fish by experience. F.A. Verner (1836-1928) was impressed by the depth of knowledge and skill Canada’s First Nations people possessed when it came to living off the land. There are many examples of paintings by him which record scenes of setting and breaking camp, canoeing and hunting - people expertly going about their daily tasks. In this lot, four figures have gathered at sunset, to fish under the emerging stars.
By 1875, Verner’s own star was rising and he was now devoting all his time to painting as a result of the increasing popularity of his work. Joan Murray notes that “(B)y the spring of 1875 (Verner) had produced a surprising amount of new work.” She continues: “Among his paintings were his first subjects of evening or night scenes”, such as this lot.
Joan Murray, The Last Buffalo, The Story of Frederick Arthur Verner, Painter of the Canadian West, Pagurian Press, Toronto, 1984, page 63.
Private Collection, Toronto