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 William R. Hope  (1863 - 1931)

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Lived/Active: Quebec/New Brunswick / Canada/England      Known for: landscape, marine, historical sites, figure and genre painting

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Ad Code: 4
William R. Hope
?Moonrise? oil on canvas 39.25? X 58.50? signed W. Hope (c.1903). Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William R. Hope RCA, AAM, CAC (1863 - 1931)

A prominent late 19th century and early 20th century Canadian painter, draftsman and war artist, William R. Hope was born in Montreal, Quebec, where he lived most of his life and died. He was an influential member of the Montreal art community and of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*. (1)

His mediums included oils, watercolors and ink. His best known subjects were landscapes, harbors, boats, marine views, mountains, interiors, historic buildings, historic events, figures and genre*. The most frequent painting locations were Quebec; New Brunswick; Bath, England; and the forest of Fontainebleau, France. Hope's paintings were known for their atmosphere* and mood, his styles could be described as Realism* and Luminism*. (2)(3)

His art education included study in Paris, France (c.1880s), under Aime Morot, Luc Oliver Merson and Antonin Mercie. Hope also travelled in Italy and Holland, and, for a time (c.1917), lived in Bath, England. (4)

He was a founder of the Pen and Pencil Club of Montreal* (1890); a member of the Art Association of Montreal (c. 1890), of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (Associate - 1895, Academician - 1902, and Council Member - 1906), and of the Canadian Art Club* (c.1911 - 1915).

He exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal* (1889 - 1925), the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1890 - 1927), and the Canadian Art Club* (c. 1912 - 1915). His works were also included in the "Pan American Exposition", Buffalo, New York (1901); the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto (1903); and the "Louisiana Purchase Exposition*", St. Louis, Missouri (1904).

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the McCord Museum of Canadian History (Montreal), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

His awards included a Bronze Medal from the "Louisiana Purchase Exposition*" in 1904.
(1) Other than for schooling and travel, Hope lived in Montreal for most of his life. However, he spent his summers at St. Andrews, New Brunswick and for a period around the beginning of World War I he lived and painted in Bath, England; which put him in position to play a key role in the creation of the first group of official Canadian war artists. The story: In 1917, Lord Beaverbrook (aka: William Maxwell Aitken 1879 - 1964) a Canadian born British 'press baron', business tycoon, politician and philanthropist was in the process of  funding a Canadian war art program (aka: Canadian War Records Office; aka: Canadian War Memorials Fund); his plans were to commission British artists to illustrate Canadian World War I history. A combined committee of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* and the Ontario Society of Artists* asked Eric Brown, the director of the National Gallery of Canada to approach Robert Borden, the Prime Minister of Canada, about interceding to include Canadian artists in the program. Borden agreed with them, that Canadians should be included, but he said that since Beaverbrook was funding the program it was up to him to select the artists, so they should be talking directly with Beaverbrook. The committee then contacted William Hope, a senior member of the RCA, who was, as mentioned, then living in England. They asked him to meet with Beaverbrook to convey their request. Hope contacted Beaverbrook and persuaded him to include Canadian artists in the war art program. The original seven official 'Canadian' Canadian war artists appointed by Beaverbrook were Maurice Cullen, Charles Simpson, J.W. Beatty, F.H. Varley, A.Y. Jackson, Lionel Fosbery (1879 - 1956) and? William R. Hope. Sources: Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 - 1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references); and A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Two, G - Jackson (1970), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references).

(2) Please note: Hope's RCA exhibition painting titles such as York Beach, Maine (shown 1901); East Port, Maine (shown in 1902); Winnipeg (shown 1912); and Night in the Rockies (shown in 1912) suggest Hope may have traveled in Maine as well as in western Canada. Since Maine borders the province of New Brunswick and East Port is less than 15 miles, by water, from Hope's summer home in St. Andrews this (him traveling there) is not surprising; but, the Rocky Mountains are about 3000 miles from Montreal and the possibility of Hope traveling there is not discussed by any of our sources. However, it seems more likely when you factor in that Hope was a regular painting companion of amateur artist Sir William Cornelius Van Horne (see AskART) the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the founder of the Railway Painters* program. Hope may have been enticed or even commissioned by his friend Van Horne to travel west to paint. Sources: Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 - 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references); and From Telegrapher to Titan: The Life of William C. Van Horne (2004), by Valerie Knowles (see AskART book references).

(3) Please note: Even though he was one of Canada's first officially designated war artists our sources record that Hope did not visit France as a war artist until 1919, after the armistice; and, unfortunately, none of his war art is listed in the collections of any museum or illustrated in any of the books used in preparing this biography. M.D. Silverbrooke.

(4) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their names, have their own records in AskART.
A Concise History of Canadian Painting 3rd edition (2012), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)

Thinkers and Dreamers: Historical Essays in Honour of Carl Berger (2011), edited by Gerald Friesen and Doug Owram (see AskART book references)

From Telegrapher to Titan: The Life of William C. Van Horne (2004), by Valerie Knowles (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)

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

Canadian Who's Who: Index 1898 - 1984 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (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)

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 Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography (1978), edited by W. A. McKay (see AskART book references)

Early Painters and Engravers in Canada (1970), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Two, G - Jackson (1970), by Colin S. MacDonald (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 Fine Arts in Canada (1925), by Newton MacTavish (see AskART book references)

Canadian Men and Women of the Time: A Handbook of Canadian Biography of Living Characters (1912), edited by Henry James Morgan (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

* 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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