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Jacobi Page 9

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Otto Reinhold Jacobi - 1812-1901

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Simply Fabulous! One of the finest Jacobis of all must be this fabulously aching landscape of "The Prairie Homestead."

It captures, evocatively, the wrenching loneliness of the life of the newcomers who first settled the Canadian west, in the mid-1800s. The tiny wagon and ramshackle dwellings are mere accents in the vast wilderness that envelopes the homesteaders who are trying to eke out a living from the land.

Perhaps painted in the Qu'Appelle Valley or the Cypress Hills, Otto has perched his homesteaders on a rude outcrop with the prairie stretching off into the distance.

No simple kodachrome this; Otto has perfectly captured the difficult mix of sun and shadow which often dapples the summer prairie as the clouds scud by overhead.

But there is human warmth here too, and a story. Papa in the wagon has just returned, perhaps from a visit to a distant neighbour, and a child runs out in welcome, as mother stands expectantly in the doorway, risking a moment away from cooking supper on the stove.


Prairie Homestead (detail), prob. Saskatchewan - Otto R. Jacobi, 1882
Orig. oil on board 1882 - Size - 18" x 24"
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed OR Jacobi 1882

In 1860, he painted Canada's Gift for the Prince of Wales...


Otto Reinhold Jacobi
was born in Prussia (which later became part of Germany), and later studied in Konigsburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf (Germany).

In 1841 his skill was so advanced that he was appointed court painter to the Grand Duke of Nassau.

Otto came to Canada, becoming one of her best trained and most highly regarded artists of the 19th century.

When, in 1860, Prince Edward became the first Prince of Wales to visit Canada, Otto Jacobi received the immense honour of executing the official gift of a painting of Canada for the Prince. He painted Shawinigan Falls.


Otto travelled and painted widely in Quebec, Ontario, and the Rockies right as well as to the American west.

He also did portrait painting.

His favourite scenes were autumn foliage and water falls, which he executed with romantic flair. His best work featured the atmospheric style which he developed later in life.

He eventually died in Dakota where his son had settled.

More Great Canadian Heritage Treasures from Otto Jacobi
Parliament Hill, c 1870 Autumn in Canada, 1870
Figures by a Lakeshore, 1877 The St. Maurice River, 1862

The Essential Jacobi

Otto loved nature and never tired of painting lush foliage with extreme detail, and landscapes with waterfalls, often showing no people, or cultural accents, at all.

He developed a passion for capturing atmosphere in his paintings, so effectively shown in the Homestead (top) and the Rocky Mountains (above).

He used human accents, like Indians and camps, sparingly, and shrank them to insignificance in his canvases, echoing how much the immensity of the Canadian landscape overshadowed its people.

He underlined the daunting task taken up by all those adventurous souls who had decided to eke out a home in the Canadian wilderness

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