Robert McVittie was born in England where he attended the Thames Nautical Training College. He entered the Merchant Navy, working on freighters before emigrating to Canada in 1957. He worked as a miner in Ontario, where he began painting.
In 1964 he moved to the west coast of Canada to live in North Vancouver and later West Vancouver. He worked for a few years as a graphic artist for the Hydro and Power Authority. Then he turned to painting full time.
His medium is oil, his style realism, and his subjects are almost exclusively marine, including historic sailing ships, navel and fishing boats as well as freighters and sea life (killer whales). His work is noted for its accuracy, it is said he often used the original ships plans. If any artist's influence showed in his work it would be Montague Dawson.
In 1970 he completed a commission of twelve paintings of the historic ships of the Northwest territories. To gain first hand knowledge for the project he traveled to the Canadian Arctic, the northern most point of North America. Those paintings hang in the legislative buildings in Yellowknife, North West Territory. Through the 1970's, 80's and 90's many of his paintings were reproduced in a popular series of limited edition prints. His paintings are in the collections of HM Queen Elizabeth II, The B.C.Maritime Museum, the B.C. Provincial Government, and many other public, corporate and private collections.
He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald, published by Canadian Paperbacks Ltd.; and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar, published by Westbridge Publications Ltd.
Prepared and contributed by M.D.Silverbrooke