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 John William Beatty  (1869 - 1941)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: painting, teaching, drypoint, etching

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John William Beatty (AKA: J.W. Beatty) was a painter, printmaker and educator.  He was born, lived and died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
 
His primary mediums were oil, watercolour, drypoint and etching. His primary subject was the Canadian landscape.  The locations ranged across Canada from Baie St. Paul, Quebec to Bowen Island, British Columbia (suburb of Vancouver).  There are also village scenes, urban scenes, landscapes, portraits, still life, figures and genre works from his European travels; and, during World War I, portraits and depictions of war in France.  His styles are Impressionism, Plein Air and Fauvism.  The influence of the Barbizon School is also evident in his early works.

He is considered one of the principle innovators and promoters of the iconic Canadian landscape painting style made famous by the Group of Seven (see AskART glossary); many of whose members were close friends and painting companions(1).  He was also one of the first to paint in Algonquin Park (Ontario), a frequent setting for G7 paintings. Quote: “The Art of Italy is dead, Holland has no art, nor Spain or Belgium.  The art of France is a chaotic state that it does not know whether its pictures are upside down or not. England is indeed the only European country that can lay claims to art today. Ten years from now the United States will lead the world... what of Canada? I come to you as a prophet. The future of this country stands for more than that of any country on earth.”  - J.W. Beatty (2).
 
In Toronto, he studied at Galbraith's Academy under Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, and at the Central Ontario School of Art (1894) under John W. L. Forster, George A. Reid and William Cruickshank.  In Paris he studied at the Académie Julian (1900 – 01) under Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens; and in London he studied at Chelsea Polytechnic (sometime during the second trip to Europe, 1906 - 1908) under Ernest Borough Johnson (see all the teachers in AskART).
 
He taught at the Ontario College of Art (1912 – 1941) and founded and ran its summer school for teachers (1913 – 1935).  His students included John Alexander Hall, Graham Noble Norwell, Alan Caswell Collier, George Broomfield, A. J. Casson, Thomas Harold Beament, John Martin Alfsen, George Douglas Pepper, Mildred Valley Thornton and Yvonne M. Housser (see all in AskART).
 
His travels include England, France, Spain, Italy and the Low Countries (1906 -1908), Northern Ontario (1909) and the Rocky Mountains (1914).
 
He was elected to the Ontario Society of Artists (1901), and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (ARCA 1903, RCA 1913) (3).  He was a charter member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto (1909) and its President (1912 - 1913).  In 1917 he was awarded the rank of Captain in the Canadian Army and served as a War Artist in England and France (1918).  He was also a fireman for the City of Toronto (1889 -1900)(4); and at 16 he served with the Ontario Militia contingent that was sent to suppress the Northwest Rebellion in Saskatchewan (5)).
 
In addition to exhibiting with the above artist groups, he also exhibited frequently at the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto) and at the Art Association of Montreal.  The Art Gallery of Toronto (6) had a 'Memorial Exhibition' of his work in 1942.
 
His works are avidly collected. They are also in many public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinberg, Ontario), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto), the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa), the MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario) and the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario). The National Gallery of Canada has 12 Beatty’s in its collection.
 
He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and in Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson.  His work and its importance are discussed in most books about Canadian art history.
 
 
Footnotes:
 
(1) In 1914 he travelled across the country with A. Y. Jackson, on a commission from Canadian Northern Railway, to paint scenes during the laying of tracks through the Rocky Mountains. J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris and Tom Thompson were frequent painting companions in Northern Ontario. He had his studio in Lawren Harris's Studio Building.
 
(2) Source: Ontario College of Art and Design Archives
 
(3) He exhibited with the RCA from 1898 to 1941.
 
(4) Sources differ on the length of time as a fireman some say the full 11 years, MacDonald, for example, says just the years 1899 to 1900; noting that he worked as a house painter for 10 years before that. However, the marriage records of the city of Toronto show John William Beatty's occupation as a fireman when he married Caroline Cornock on August 2, 1890.
 
(5) A short lived (March to June 1885) violent uprising against the government of Canada; by disgruntled Indians, Metis and settlers; led by Louis Riel. It was suppressed due to the surprisingly swift response by the Canadian government with militias raised in Ontario (and the west) and transported by the newly constructed railway.
 
(6) Since 1966, the Art Gallery of Ontario.
 
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

Biography from Mayberry Fine Art:
John William Beatty served in the Riel Rebellion.  He studied at Central Ontario School of Art under J.W.L. Forster.  His overall style is Realism with a touch of sentiment, and his subject matter is that of the Group of Seven, the wilds of the Canadian northland.

Beatty also studied at the Academie Julian in Paris.  He was a teacher at the Ontario College of Art 1912-41. O.S.A. 1901-02, R.C.A. 1913.  He was a very good friend of Tom Thomson and J.E.H. MacDonald and when Thomson died MacDonald and he went up to Canoe Lake to build the Cairn to mark the spot where he died.

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