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 Arthur Henry Howard Heming  (1870 - 1940)

About: Arthur Henry Howard Heming
 

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Lived/Active: Ontario/Connecticut / Canada      Known for: landscape and wildlife painting, magazine illustration

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Ad Code: 3
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MOUNTIE ON HILLTOP VISTA
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Arthur Henry Howard Heming ARCA, OSA, CSGA, ALC, CAA, SI (1870 – 1940)

Arthur Henry Howard Heming (AKA: Arthur Heming) was a prominent Canadian painter, illustrator, writer, novelist and educator; famous for his numerous and extensive travels in the Canadian wilderness.  His illustrations, essays and novels based on these exploits were widely published throughout Canada, the USA and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. (1)

He was born in Paris, Ontario (a town about 50 miles south of Toronto and 20 miles west of Hamilton) and raised, from age 12, in Hamilton, Ontario where he died.  He lived in the Toronto-Hamilton area most of his life. (2)

His mediums were primarily oil, gouache and watercolor. His subjects included portraits, genre*, landscapes, wildlife, whaling, logging, Indians, Eskimos, explorers, hunting and historic events.  Most of his work focused on the people, places and animals of the Canadian wilderness.  His styles were Realism* and Plein Air*. AskART has good examples of his best known style and subjects.  Though it should be noted that until 1930, and for most of his career, he painted in grisaille* or with a palette* limited to black, white and yellow.  The reason for this is he believed he was color-blind from the time he was in art school (3). When, in 1930, Richard Jack (4) informed him he wasn’t color-blind, Heming began painting the vivid works for which he is now famous.

Heming’s formal art education includes the Hamilton Art School (1887 – 1890); the New York Art Students League* (1899) under Frank Vincent Dumond; and, in London, England (1904) under Frank Brangwyn. (5)

His teaching career began at the Hamilton Art School when he worked as an assistant to the headmaster while studying there.  He continued as a teacher at the school for 16 years (c.1887 – 1903). Future Group of Seven* member J.E.H. Macdonald, who attended the school around 1890, was one of his students. (6)

His travels focused on the Canadian wilderness. He ventured north to the Arctic Circle and west to the Rocky Mountains. In his own words, “I traveled twenty-three times through various parts of the vast north woods, between Maine and Alaska, and covered thousands upon thousands of miles by canoe, pack train, snowshoes, bateau [oar powered, flat-bottom boat], dog train, buck-board, timber-raft, prairie-schooner, lumber-wagon and “alligator” [logging tug boat].”(7)

He started working as an illustrator at the Hamilton Spectator in 1890 and eventually worked for Harper’s Weekly, New York.  His illustrations also appeared in Metropolitan Magazine, the Illustrated London News, the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (Germany), The New York Times, Je Sais Tout (Paris, France), the Windsor Magazine (London, England), Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, Country Life In America, Le Monde Illustré (France), Canadian Magazine, Life, The London Tatler, New York Times Magazine, Library Review, Gold Magazine, The Connoisseur Magazine, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Studio Magazine, Svenska Ungdomens Roda Kors (Swedish Red Cross Magazine), Animal Life, Forest and Outdoors, American Boy, Canadian Red Cross Magazine, Canada's Weekly, Boston Transcript, Rider and Driver, Boston Herald, Toronto Star Weekly, Scientific American, and La Gazzetta del Popolo della Sera (Italy). (8)

Heming was the author and illustrator of three novels – Spirit Lake (1907), The Drama of the Forests: Romance and Adventure (1921), and The Living Forest (1925).  He also illustrated several books by other authors including “Across the Sub-Arctics of Canada: A Journey of 3200 Miles by Canoe and Snowshoe Through the Barren Lands” (1897), by James Williams Tyrrell; The Great Company (1900), by Beckles Willson; and four books by William Alexander Fraser –  Mooswa and Others of the Boundaries” (1900), The Outcasts (1901), The Sa’ zada tales (1905) and “The Three Sapphires” (1918). (9)

He was a member of several art and literary associations such as the Canadian Club of Hamilton; the Authors' Club (London, England); the Canadian Authors' Association; the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto; the Society of Authors, Playwrights and Composers (London, England); the Author's League of America; the Society of Illustrators* (New York); the Canadian Society of Graphic Art*; and the Ontario Society of Artists*.  He was also elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1934) and was a summer resident of the Old Lyme* artists’ colony in Connecticut from 1902 until 1910. (10)

He exhibited with the RCA from 1912 to 1939 and with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1913 and from 1930 to 1937. He was also included in exhibitions at the T. Eaton department store (Toronto) in 1933 and 1935; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa in 1926; the British Empire Trade Exhibition, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1931; and "A Century of Canadian Art", Tate Gallery, London, England in 1938. (11)

Posthumously, his work was included in the 1995 exhibition, “The Group of Seven – Art For A Nation” at the National Gallery of Canada.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* Heming’s works are in several major Canadian Museums including the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Museum London (Ontario), The Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto) and the National Gallery of Canada. The Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture also note his work is in the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut and in the Library of Congress, Division of Prints & Photographs (Cabinet of American Illustration), Washington, D.C. (12)

Footnotes:

(1) Source: National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives – http://www.gallery.ca/english/library/biblio/ngc024.html; and "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references).

(2) Source: “National Gallery of Canada Catalogue, Vol. 3, Canadian School” (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references). See below for additional documentation about his residence in Toronto:
 
(2.1) ‘By 1910, Heming is living in Toronto, Canada, but he also lists Old Lyme Artists colony* where he spent summers from 1902 to 1910 as an address.’ In 1914, he was one of the first artists to be invited to have a studio in the "Studio Building" in Toronto, built by Lawren S. Harris (see AskART). Sources: Florence Griswold Museum –  http://www.flogris.org/learning/foxchase/html/arthur_heming.php; and The Group of Seven – Art for a Nation (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references).

(2.2) The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar, lists his home as Toronto from 1912 until 1940, though notes he died in Hamilton.

(3) Sources: AskART Images; and museum illustrations and descriptions of mediums in the Canadian Heritage Information Network* data base. Note: “While attending one of his art classes in Canada or [the] United States, Heming was told that he was partially colour blind. Fearing that he would make wrong colour judgments he worked in black, white, and yellow until he was sixty years old. It was then that he learned through his artist friend Richard Jack, R.A., that he was no longer colour blind.” Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references).

(4) All artist teachers and artist associates mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.

(5) Sources for education and teaching : National Gallery of Canada Catalogue, Vol. 3, Canadian School (1960), by R.H. Hubbard; A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references).

(6) Sources: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and “The Tangled Garden – The Art of J.E.H. MacDonald” (1978), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references).

(7) Source: Introduction to The Drama of the Forests: Romance and Adventure (1921), by Arthur Heming (see AskART book references).

Note: None of the sources used in the preparation of this biography, including Heming himself, are very specific about the dates and destinations of his travels in Canada.  Other than his general reference to the area between Alaska and Maine, only two other place names are mentioned; Timiskaming, a lake about 200 miles north of Ottawa on the border of Ontario and Quebec; and the Rocky Mountains. Both are found in the MacDonald dictionary. We have attempted to locate more detailed travel information from biographies of Heming (none were located) or those of associates without much luck.

The most convincing corroboration (we found) of Heming’s travels was his inclusion in the expedition led by Caspar Whitney (1862 – 1929) in 1895; noted in the MacDonald biography but not expanded upon.  It was the subject of an April 1896 article in Harper’s Weekly titled, “On Snow-Shoes to the Barren Grounds – Twenty-Eight Hundred Miles After Musk-Oxen and Wood-Bison” (and a book of the same title) by Whitney.  The title of chapter 5 (page 49) is “Heming Turns Back”. He apparently fell over a log  four days out of base camp (La Biche, Alberta, about 150 miles north of Edmonton), less than 100 miles into the six month, 2800 mile expedition, and was advised to return to Hamilton, Ontario; which he did. The book does not credit any illustrator however it includes artwork by Heming, Frederic Remington and others; as well as photographs. Source: On Snow-Shoes to the Barren Grounds – Twenty-Eight Hundred Miles After Musk-Oxen and Wood-Bison (1896), by Caspar Whitney (see AskART book references).  

As an alternative source of travel details, we thought we could use the Canadian Heritage Information Network* list of paintings in Canadian museums and auction results found in AskART and elsewhere, to see if any locations and dates of trips could be discerned from the painting titles, dates and inscriptions.  Few were found, and none advanced the story in a convincing or impressive direction.  It also occurred to the author that the paintings like the illustrations for books, notably the one mentioned above and "Across the Sub-Arctics of Canada", could easily have been created by Heming using someone else’s photos, sketches, imagination or memory about places, people and events Heming himself had not visited or witnessed. Source: http://www.archive.org/stream/acrosssubarctico00tyrrrich/acrosssubarctico00tyrrrich_djvu.txt.

Interestingly, A.Y. Jackson, a friend and fellow occupant of the Studio Building, recalls in his book A Painter’s Country that in his many conversations with Heming, ‘he talked about his experiences in the USA, his acquaintance with [President] Woodrow Wilson and Lyme, Connecticut but, “I do not remember that he ever mentioned the north country or expressed a desire to go there.” –  Source: Page 26 A Painter’s Country (1957), by A.Y Jackson (see AskART book references).

(8) Sources: My Hamilton – http://myhamilton.net/articles/arthur-heming-1870-1940; “National Gallery of Canada Catalogue, Vol. 3, Canadian School” (1960), by R.H. Hubbard; A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references).

(9) Sources: Art Gallery of Ontario archives (online).

(10) Sources: Florence Griswold Museum – http://www.flogris.org/learning/foxchase/html/arthur_heming.php; A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar. Note: In 1938 he wrote, “Miss Florence and the Artists of Old Lyme”, which was illustrated by James Stevenson and published by the Lyme Historical Society in 1971 (see AskART book references).

(11) Exhibition sources: National Gallery of Canada Catalogue, Vol. 3, Canadian School” (1960), by R.H. Hubbard; A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and The Group of Seven – Art for a Nation (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references).

(12) Sources: Canadian Heritage Information Network*; and the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System, Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture –  http://siris-artinventories.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=1284AP643P022.29946&profile=ariall&uri=link=3100006~!215108~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!siartinventories&term=Heming%2C+Arthur%2C+1870-1945%2C+painter.&index=AUTHOR#focus.

 * For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

 

 

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Arthur Heming is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Old Lyme Colony Painters

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