|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Archibald George Barnes RP, RI, ROI, RCA, OSA, OIP (1887 – 1972)|
A prominent British/Canadian portrait painter, war artist and educator, Archibald George Barnes was born in London, England and died in Toronto, Ontario, where he had lived since about 1930. His paintings are collected by several museums, including the National Gallery of Canada. (1)(2)
His primary mediums were oils and watercolors. His most well-known subjects were society portraits, military portraits, figures in interiors and figures in landscapes. He also painted nudes, allegorical scenes, and still life. His styles were Realism* and Impressionism*. AskART Images have some excellent illustrations of his work.
Barnes’ art education includes studies in London, England at the St. John’s Wood Art School* (1904 – 1907), under William Q. Orchardson; and the Royal Academy Schools (1907 – 1910), under John Singer Sargent, William Orpen, Charles Sims, and George Clausen. Barnes taught at the Ontario College of Art*, Toronto from 1935 to 1952. (3)(4)(5)
In England, Barnes was a member of Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours* (1923), the Royal Institute of Oil Painters* (1924), and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters* (1925). In Canada, he was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists* (1932 – 1951), the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (Associate – 1933, Academician – 1936, council member – 1948 to 1950), and a founding member of the Ontario Institute of Painters* (1958), and its President (1959).
Barnes exhibited with the Royal Academy*, London (1913 – 1934); the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1930 – 1957); the Ontario Society of Artists* (1931 to 1937, 1944 and 1951); and at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto (1931). His works were included in the “All Canadian Exhibition”, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (1932); in a T. Eaton (major Canadian department store) exhibition and sale with Arthur Heming in Toronto (1933); in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* retrospective exhibition, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1954); and in “The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation”, at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and touring (1995).
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Canadian War Museum (Ottawa), Gallery Oldham (Oldham, England), Huddersfield Art Gallery (Huddersfield, England), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), Manchester Art Gallery (Manchester, England), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Riverbrink Art Museum (Queenston, Ontario), Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum (Burnley, Lancashire, England), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
His awards include the Landseer Scholarship from the Royal Academy. (6)
(1) Please note: The date of Barnes’ immigration to Toronto, Canada varies within our sources from 1929 to 1931. Two National Gallery of Canada Information Forms filled out by Barnes also vary – the one submitted in 1936 says he came to Canada in “September 1930” the one submitted in 1965 specifically says “September 21st 1931”. The earliest newspaper story we have found describing him in Toronto is dated April 3, 1930. A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F notes that ‘he came to Canada in 1929 and settled in Toronto in 1931’. It goes on to say, "Not long after his arrival in Canada he traveled to New Orleans, Chicago and St. Louis, Mo. (1929-30).” Sources: "Gainsborough from the Antipodes", page 14, Ottawa Citizen (newspaper) – April 3, 1930; and A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F (see AskART book references).
(2) The reason for Barnes’ emigration from England, where he seems to have had a promising career, to Canada is a little baffling and not explained by any of our sources. Sutcliffe Galleries, a British dealer in his works, notes in its biography of him that “… Archibald Barnes mysteriously disappeared from the London art scene in 1934 at the very pinnacle of his career…” and Benezit Dictionary of Artists records his life-dates as “Born 1887; died before 1934.” A clue to the mystery may be in the fact that he was married to Madeline Eileen Sayer in 1923 and to Barbara Taylor in 1931; perhaps a death or divorce prompted the move; or as the move coincided with the beginning of the Great Depression the reason could have simply been financial. It should also be noted that Barnes connection to Canada went back to World War I when he was one of several British artists who received Canadian War Memorials Fund commissions (c. 1916 – 1917) to document “Canadian Heroes and Heroines in the War.” Sources: Sutcliffe Galleries, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England; Benezit Dictionary of Artists (2006), English version (see AskART book references); Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts; and “The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation” (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references).
(3) As noted above, there are two information forms for Barnes on file at the National Gallery of Canada. One is dated June 1936 the other October 1965; both appear to have been completed by Barnes. Both list St. John’s Wood Art School* and the Royal Academy Schools* as places he studied. The 1936 form lists ‘John S. Sargent, Sir William Orpen and Charles Sims’ as artists he studied under, but it does not say where. The 1965 form lists ‘John Singer Sargent and Sir William Orpen’ as artists he studied under, but it does not say where. Neither of the NGC forms provide any schooling dates. The dates, additional teachers, and the specific places where he studied under each teacher, provided here, are from A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F and the Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume One A – F (see both in AskART book references).
(4) One source differs from the others on Barnes’ education dates: Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (see AskART book references) has the following dates: St. John’s Wood Art School*, (1907 – 1911) and the Royal Academy School (1911 – 1914). It also lists the Landseer Scholarship as 1911. Since these dates could work chronologically almost as well (the 1913 RA exhibition and War Memorials selection noted) as the other dates, without further investigation they are provided without prejudice.
(5) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes have their own records in AskART.
(6) In the National Gallery of Canada Information Form dated October 1965, Barnes noted the Landseer Scholarship* as an award he had received from the Royal Academy. He did not provide a date, however it would have been received while he attended the Royal Academy Schools.
Benezit Dictionary of Artists (2006), English version (see AskART book references)
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)
The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F" 5th edition (1997), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)
A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)
The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references)
Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume One A – F (1988), general editors Charles C. Hill and Pierre B. Landry (see AskART book references)
Canadian Who’s Who: Index 1898 – 1984 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 – 1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references)
Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)
Art Gallery of Ontario – The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield (see AskART book references)
The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)
Canadian Heritage Information Network* (Canadian Museums)
Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art* (OSA exhibitions)
BBC - Public Catalogue Foundation website (British Museums)
National Gallery of Canada Information Form, dated June 8/36 (biography)
National Gallery of Canada Information Form, dated October 1965 (biography)
The Getty Research Institute Union List of Artist Names Online (life-dates)
"Gainsborough from the Antipodes", Ottawa Citizen – April 3, 1930
“The Matterhorn at Sunrise", Ottawa Citizen – June 25, 1930
"Child Study by Barnes", Ottawa Citizen – December 10, 1930
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.
Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.
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