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 Joseph Sydney Hallam  (1899 - 1953)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada/England      Known for: portrait, landscape, figure and genre painting, illustration, commercial art, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joseph Sydney Hallam RCA, OSA, CSGA, CSPWC, (1899 – 1953) (1)

A prominent Canadian painter, illustrator, commercial artist and educator, Joseph Sydney Hallam was born in Manchester, England and died in Toronto, Ontario, where he’d lived since 1918. Hallam was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* and President of the Ontario Society of Artists*. His works are in the collections of several major Canadian museums including the National Gallery of Canada. (2)

His mediums were oil, watercolor, gouache*, graphite, serigraph*, poster and mixed mediums. His subjects were portraits, landscapes, figures, genre*, village scenes, rural scenes, urban scenes, interiors, historic landmarks, war, marine scenes, harbors and social commentary. Most of the painting locations are in Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime Provinces and Maine (USA). His styles were Realism*, Impressionism*, Fauvism* and Regionalism*. The AskART images are excellent illustrations of his oeuvre.

Hallam’s art education includes studies at Hamilton Technical and Art School, under John Gordon; the Toronto Central Technical School; the Ontario Collage of Art* (evenings 1918 – 1924), under J.W. Beatty; and private studies under Archibald Barnes and F. H. Varley. Hallam worked as a commercial artist for most of his life, first at Reid Press (Hamilton) and from about 1921 at Sampson-Matthews and Company (Toronto). His illustrations appeared in major Canada magazines such as Saturday Night, Canadian Homes and Gardens, New World, and MacLean's as well as in books like Canada Unlimited (1948), by Gerald Anglin. Hallam also taught night school at the Ontario Collage of Art (c.1940 to 1945). (3)

He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists* (c.1929) and its President (1948), the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists* (1929 – c.1932), the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* (charter member 1930 – 1941), and a member of the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto (c.1932 – 1941). He was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* in 1943 and a full member in 1950.

He exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* from 1928 to 1953, the Ontario Society of Artists* from 1929 to 1954, and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* from 1930 to 1936. His works were also exhibited at the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto) in the 1930s and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1949; as well as in the exhibitions “Canadian Portraits”, Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario in 1961; “Panton and Hallam”, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario (1975); and “The 1940s: A Decade of Painting in Ontario”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto in 1985.

Hallam was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Williams Memorial Art Gallery [now Museum London], London, Ontario (1947); Laing Galleries, Toronto (1951); Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario), Toronto (Memorial 1954); and Roberts Gallery, Toronto (1958).

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Canadian War Museum (Ottawa), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), Macdonald Stewart Art Centre [University of Guelph Art Collection] (Guelph, Ontario), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Museum London (Ontario), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

Hallam’s awards and honors include first prize (church poster) from the Poster Advertising Association, Chicago, U.S.A. (1925); the Ontario Society of Artists’ J.W.L. Forster Award for painting (1947); the Art Directors Club Medal (1950); and, on October 22, 1980, Canada Post released a 17 cent postage stamp which featured an illustration of Hallam’s 1931 painting titled Sleigh Ride.

(1) Please note: A few sources, most notably The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (1960) and A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1970), say Hallam’s birth year is 1898. The Art Gallery of Ontario – The Canadian Collection (1970), the Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art (1988), the National Gallery of Canada website, and the Canadian Heritage Information Network all say his birthday is July 19, 1899. Most sources concur that his birth year is 1899.

(2) Hallam immigrating to Canada with his family in 1910 and lived in Hamilton, Ontario before moving to Toronto. Source: Climbing the Cold White Peaks: A Survey of Artists in and from Hamilton 1910 – 1950 (1986), by Stuart MacCuaig (see AskART book references).

(3) Please note: All artists and teachers mentioned in this biography have records in AskART.

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume Two G – K (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)

Climbing the Cold White Peaks: A Survey of Artists in and from Hamilton 1910 – 1950 (1986), by Stuart MacCuaig (see AskART book references)

Toronto in Art: 150 Years through Artist’s Eyes (1983), edited by Edith G. Firth (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)

The University of Guelph Art Collection: A Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture (1980), by Judith M. Nasby (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Two, G – Jackson (1970), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Art Gallery of Ontario – The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art - Its Origin and Development (1943) (paperback 1967), by William Colgate (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)

The Canadian Encyclopedia Online – see Graphic Art and Design

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*

Art Gallery of Ontario Research Library & Archives

Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour*

Canadian Postal Archives Database


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

Written 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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