Art in Focus: “Harvest Field” by Lars Haukaness

Norwegian-Canadian artist Lars Haukaness’s painting of a farmer’s field presents a richly yellow landscape.

Norwegian-Canadian artist Lars Haukaness’s painting of a farmer’s field presents a richly yellow landscape. Reminiscent of the harvest fields illustrated by other earlier European artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, John Constable, and Jean-François Millet; the painting was completed during Haukaness’s early years in Manitoba. The work of art depicts a resting worker, a jug, and wheat sheaves at the forefront. This painting also captures the early settler agricultural practices in Manitoba and a sense of respite from the physical work in harvesting wheat during the late summer months.

While the work is a landscape painting, the work’s focus is on agricultural life and labour in the Prairies. The work of art acts both as a moment in time, and as the embodiment of family homesteading on the Prairies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This period also saw Canadians building railways which “took measures to stimulate investment and attract settlers, and, in a word, did whatever was necessary to transplant the American model of commutation of public land to private property, to Canadian soil.”1 In many ways, the painting naturalizes the idyllism associated with family farming and the transformation of long-established grasslands to one where agriculture is practiced.

Upon immigrating to Canada in 1920, Haukaness exhibited his work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and taught at the Winnipeg School of Art from 1920-24.2 In 1926, Haukaness would later teach at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (later the Alberta College of Art) in Calgary, Alberta, focusing on the mountainous landscape of the region. In addition to his work as an artist, Haukaness was an active art educator in Calgary and a mentor to Alberta artists such as Maxwell Bates (1906-1980) and William Leroy Stevenson (1905-1966).3

The University of Alberta Museums Art Collection currently holds 16 paintings by the artist, all of which reflect the varied landscapes of Norway, the Midwest United States, and the Canadian Prairies, including a somber self-portrait, titled “Myself”. Haukaness passed away during a hiking trip to sketch the Rockies in 1929.

1 Adelman, Jeremy. 'Land Use and Distribution on the Prairies', Frontier Development: Land, Labour, and Capital on the Wheatlands of Argentina and Canada 1890-1914 (Oxford,1994; online edn, Oxford Academic, 3 Oct. 2011),, accessed 29 Nov. 2022.


3 Townshend, Nancy. A History of Art in Alberta: 1905-1970 (Bayeux Arts Press: Calgary, AB, 2005), 1. 

This web story is part of the University of Alberta Museums Art Collection Spotlight Series, a collection of web stories aimed to share works of art from the University of Alberta Museums Art Collection with the world. Posted monthly, these stories connect works of art in the Collection to important matters on our campus and in our world.