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 Frederick Henry Brigden  (1871 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Ontario/Manitoba / Canada      Known for: painting, drawing graphics, illustration, engraving

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Lake in the Hills
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A very distinguished Canadian painter, draftsman, graphic artist, illustrator, commercial engraver, businessman and leader in the Toronto, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba art communities, Frederick Henry Brigden was born in London, England and emigrated, with his parents, to Toronto in 1873. Toronto was his primary home for the rest of his life, although he commuted for several years between there and Winnipeg, Manitoba. He died while on a sketching trip in Bolton, Ontario, which is about ten miles north of Toronto.

His mediums were oils, watercolors, gouache*, pastel, chalk, graphite, pen & ink*, ink wash, colored pencil, charcoal, wood engraving* and mixed mediums. His subjects included landscapes, snowscapes, forests, rivers, waterfalls, farms, lakes, shorelines, shipyards, portraits, figures and genre*. The locations were the environs of Winnipeg and Toronto; as well as from his extensive travels. He travelled the breadth of Canada from the Maritime Provinces to British Columbia; his paintings include scenes of Cape Breton, the Laurentian Mountains, Lake Superior, the Canadian prairies, the Rocky Mountains, and the Okanagan Valley. There are also paintings from his travels in England, Scotland, Belgium and France (1910 and 1924). His styles were Realism*, Impressionism* and Plein Air*. AskART has excellent illustrations of his work.

Brigden’s art education includes studies in Toronto at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design [now – Ontario College of Art and Design University*] under William Cruikshank and George A. Reid (1885 – 1890); and watercolor painting privately under Charles Macdonald Manly(1900 – 1907). Brigden also took the summer course offered by the Art Students League of New York in Woodstock, New York under John F. Carlson (c.1912). (1)

In about 1886, Brigden began working for the family firm (2), the Toronto Engraving Company (it changed its name to Brigden’s Limited in 1911); it made illustra­tions for catalogues, newspapers, and magazines; its most famous client was the Eaton’s Department Store Catalogue. Throughout his career, he held many positions in the company including art director and general manager, he also supervised the change-over from wood to photo-engraving* in 1890, he opened the Winnipeg branch in 1913, and he became company President in 1940. During his long tenure he sought out and recruited many brilliant illustrators, several of whom went on to become some of Canada’s most prominent artists, such as Fritz Brandtner, A.J. Casson, Charles Fraser Comfort, Carl Schaefer, Philip Surrey and York Wilson. (3)

As a leader in the art community, Brigden was a member and an executive of many art associations including the Toronto Art Students League (1890 – 1906, Vice President 1896); the Ontario Society of Artists* (1898, Vice President 1913 – 1915, President 1927 – 1931); the Mahlstick Club (c.1899 – 1903); the Graphic Arts Club [later the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts*] (1903, President 1926 – 1930); the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto (charter member 1908); the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour* (co-founder, President 1926 – 1928); and the  Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (Associate 1934, Academician 1939). (4)

In addition to exhibiting with the above artist associations, he also showed his work several times at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto; at the National Gallery of Canada annual exhibitions, Ottawa (1927 and 1931); in the inaugural exhibition of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C. (1931); and regularly with the Art Association of Montreal (now – Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) between 1903 and 1952. Posthumously, his works were included in “Canadian Paintings of the 1930s” at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1967) and in “Brigden’s of Winnipeg” at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (2001).

His works were shown abroad at the “World’s Columbian Exposition”*, Chicago (1893); the “Pan-American Exposition”, Buffalo, New York (1901); the “Louisiana Purchase Exposition”*, St. Louis, Missouri (1904); the “Canadian Art Exhibition”, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England (1910); the “British Empire Exposition”, Wembley, England (1924); “A Century of Canadian Art”, Tate Gallery, London, England (1938); and at the New York World’s Fair (1939).

There were also solo exhibitions of his works at Laing’s Gallery, Toronto (1945); Museum London, London, Ontario (1953); and a Memorial exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1957).

Fred Brigden’s paintings are frequently traded on the Canadian auction market, they are in numerous private collections, and they are in several Canadian museum collections.

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 Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Museum London (Ontario), The Market Gallery (Toronto, Ontario), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

Among Brigden’s honors and awards are a Bronze Medal for water color from the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY (1901); the Kings Jubilee Medal (1935); and a Silver Medal from the Canadian Advertisers Association (1949). He was also a member of the council of the Ontario College of Art* and its chairman from 1939 to 1948.
1. Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.
2. Please note: The founder of Brigden’s Limited was Frederick Henry Brigden’s father Frederick Brigden (1841 – 1917). After being left completely deaf following a bout of scarlet fever when he was twelve, Frederick Brigden went on to become an artist, engraver, educator, philanthropist and the founder of one of Canada’s most successful graphic arts companies. Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
3. Brigden’s Limited continued as a family firm until 1979 when it merged with Rous and Mann Press to become Rous, Mann and Brigden’s.
4. Between 1896 and 1955, F.H. Brigden exhibited 47 times with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Source: "Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979" (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (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 to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms” (1997), Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)
“The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation” (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references)
“Art and Architecture in Canada” (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (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)
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)
“A Concise History of Canadian Painting” (1973), by Dennis Reid (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)
“Painting in Canada: a history” (1966), by J. Russell Harper (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 Water Colour Painting” (1954), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)
“Canadian Art” (1950), by Graham McInnes (see AskART book references)
“Canadian Landscape as Pictured by F.H. Brigden” (1944), by J.E. Middleton (see AskART book references)
“Canadian Art - Its Origin and Development” (1943) (paperback 1967), by William Colgate (see AskART book references)
"The Fine Arts in Canada" (1925), by Newton MacTavish (see AskART book references)
The Canadian Encyclopedia (online)
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Archives Canada
The Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)
John F. Carlson biography in AskART

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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