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 Albert Henry Robinson  (1881 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Quebec/Ontario / Canada      Known for: bucolic landscape and figure painting

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Albert Henry Robinson was a painter and illustrator.  He was born in Hamilton, Ontario and died in Montreal, Quebec, where he had lived since 1908.
His primary mediums were oil on wood panel and oil on canvas. He also did watercolours and pencil drawings.  His subjects were landscapes, figures in landscape, snowscape, urban scenes, harbour scenes, figures, nudes and genre.  The locations were in and around Montreal, Cacouna, La Malbaie, Baie Saint Paul, other Quebec towns, the countryside in the Laurentians and along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.  There are also paintings from his travels to Europe.

His styles were Fauvism and Plein Air.  “What Robinson introduced was an unusual colour element - pinks, corals, dark blue.  His skies are coloured boldly and unrealistically like a stage-set backdrop.  And he orchestrated the effect of space.  He was concerned throughout his painting career, short as it was, with the creation of more simplified, powerful form - he wanted to eliminate the trivial." - Joan Murray (Canadian Collector - May 1983, page 31).
After leaving high school, and still a self-taught artist, he got a job as illustrator at the Hamilton Times newspaper, where he worked until 1903 ( when he left for Paris ).  In his spare time he studied under John Sloan Gordon (see AskART) at the Hamilton Art School (1901-1903).  In Paris he studied under William Bouguereau and Marcel-Andre Baschet (see both in AskART) at Academie Julian (1903) and under Gabriel Ferrier (see AskART) at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1904).  While in France he also painted with English artist Thomas William Marshall (1875 – 1914) and frequently visited the studio of fellow Hamilton native William Blair Bruce (see AskART).
His teaching career consisted of instructing life classes at the Hamilton Art School for three years after he returned from Europe (1905 - 1908).  In 1908, he was persuaded by his patrons Mr. and Mrs. William Davis to move to Montreal, where they would pay his studio rent and introduce him to William Brymner, Edmund Dyonnet, and Maurice Cullen (see all in AskART), three of the leading artists in the country. (1)
His travels include a four month trip to Europe in 1911 with A.Y.Jackson (see AskART) whom he’d met after moving to Montreal.  Jackson became a frequent companion on painting trips in Quebec as did Clarence Gagnon, Edwin Holgate and Randolph Stanley Hewton (see all in AskART).  Most of the excursions were along the St. Lawrence River, painting the picturesque towns and countryside along both sides of the river going east towards Gaspe.(2)
Robinson was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (Associate 1911, Academician 1920), and was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters (1933).  He was also a member of the Pen and Pencil Club of Montreal (1911).
His work was exhibited with the RCA from 1909 to 1954 and with the Art Association of Montreal (3) from 1908 to 1937.  In 1920, he was one of three guest exhibitors in the first Group of Seven exhibition (see Glossary) at the Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario (4).  His work was also shown at the British Empire Exposition, Wembley, England (1925); the Sesquicentennial International Exposition, Philadelphia (1926); the Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1927); the Tate Gallery, London, England ("A Century of Canadian Art", 1938); the New York World's Fair (1939); and Yale University Art Gallery ("Canadian Art 1760 -1943", 1944).
The venues for his solo and retrospective exhibitions include the Hamilton Art School (1906); the Montreal Arts Club (1920); Watson Galleries, Montreal (1926); the West End Art Gallery, Montreal (1950); the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1955); and the Hamilton Art Gallery (1955). (5)
Posthumously, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal has had retrospectives of his work in 1961 and 1994; and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Ontario has had retrospectives in 1968 and 1982. Robinson’s paintings were included in the 1995-1996 National Gallery of Canada touring exhibition titled “The Group of Seven – Art For A Nation”.  The other venues on the tour were the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.).
His works are in many private and corporate collections.  They are also in numerous public collections including Museum London (Ontario), the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Collection (Kleinberg, Ontario), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Joliette Museum of Art (Quebec), the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa) and the Museum of Quebec (Quebec City). The National Gallery of Canada has 23 Albert Henry Robinson paintings in its collection.
His awards include the Jessie Dow Prize, from the Art Association of Montreal in 1928.
His work and its importance are discussed in most Canadian art history books.
(1) William Brymner was President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts from 1909 to 1918.
(2) While there are many lovely towns along the St. Lawrence the one probably painted the most, not only by Robinson and his friends, but by a plethora of prominent Quebec landscape painters, is Baie St. Paul. Its a town of about 4000 people, on the north side of the river, about 200 miles east of Montreal, it has spectacular views and, according to Elizabeth Kilbourn (in her book "Great Canadian Painting - A Century of Art" see Book references) a hotel owner who let painters set their own rates.
(3) The AAM became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1948.
(4) Renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1966. The other two guest exhibitors were Randolph Stanley Hewton and Robert Pilot. Robinson also exhibited with the G7 in 1925.
(5) It should be noted that due to a heart attack and arthritis he stopped painting in about 1933.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

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