Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977)

We buy and sell paintings by Edwin Holgate.  For inquiries, please contact us.

Edwin Holgate was a draftsman, portraitist, landscape and figure painter, printmaker, book illustrator, muralist, war artist, and educator. As a central figure in the development of modern art in Canada, Holgate forged his own path balancing traditional and modern stylistic approaches.

From an early age, Holgate was enrolled in classes at the Art Association of Montreal. He studied with Maurice Cullen and William Brymner for two years before moving to Paris to further his studies. Holgate returned to Montreal in 1914, travelling via Russia and Japan to Victoria, a route chosen owing to the outbreak of the First World War. He enlisted in the Fourth Canadian Division and soldiered in the ranks until 1919.

Following the first exhibition of the Group of Seven in March 1920, young independent Montreal artists, including Mabel May, Randolph Hewton, and Lilias Torrance, formed the Beaver Hall Group. Holgate was a key player in the formation of this group, but shortly afterwards he married Frances Rittenhouse, and the two moved to Paris. There he studied with Adolf Milman, a painter connected to a group of young progressive Russian émigré artists and whom Holgate acknowledged was the only instructor ever to have taught him anything.

A quiet presence in the Montreal art community, Holgate bridged the anglophone and francophone cultures. He was a member of various social and professional groups including the Canadian Group of Painters, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Casoar-Club, and the Pen and Pencil Club.

Holgate accompanied his friend A.Y. Jackson on painting expeditions, including a trip to Gitxsan territory on the Skeena River in British Columbia with the anthropologist Marius Barbeau in 1926. His work was included in several Group of Seven exhibitions and he became a member in 1929. He established a distinctive method of portraying the human figure in the landscape and was also instrumental in the revival of woodblock printing. An influential teacher at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, Holgate taught Paul-Emile Borduas and Jean Paul Lemieux, among others.

Returning home from England in 1943 after a brief and difficult appointment as an official war artist, Holgate felt out of tune with newer developments in the local art scene. He continued his figurative work, moving to the Laurentians in 1946. He moved back to Montreal for health reasons and died there in 1977 at the age of eighty-four.

 


Courtesy of  the National Gallery of Canada

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"April, near Morin Heights", 1959

Oil on canvas 21" x 26" (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal
Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal
Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal
Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"Fishing Village, Concarneau, France", 1921

Oil on canvas 24" x 28.3/4" (SOLD)

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"Natashouan Village, North Shore, Labrador", c. 1930

Oil on panel 8.1/2" x 10.1/2" (SOLD)

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"Jamaica"

Oil on panel 13" x 16" (SOLD)

Reminiscences of an Art Dealer by Walter Klinkhoff

 

EDWIN HOLGATE was a rather shy and private person.  His father had been an engineer, building railways, principally in Cuba.  He left Edwin well off financially.  Holgate and Jackson had served in the first war and had remained friends.  He was on e of the members of the Group of Seven who had joined at a later date, not as one of the founders.  He was one of the two painters of the “Group” who also painted portraits, the other being Varley.  Some of the Holgate portraits are quite marvelous.

 

I visited the Holgates frequently at Morin Heights where he had build a fine house on a sight selected for him by “Jackrabbit” Johannsen who also became his contractor and of whom he painted a famous portrait, now in the Montreal Museum.  I purchased as many paintings from him as I could, which was usually not easy because he really did not like parting with any and did not need the money.  His wife, Frances, with whom he lived in the greatest harmony, was not allowed to enter his studio and she never knew what he was painting until it was finished.  She had been an accomplished concert pianist but when I knew them she had given up playing.

 

Holgate was highly respected by other artists.  This is an important sign because artists, even if jealous and difficult of temperament at times, do recognize one another.  Only a real artist can produce real art.  Pilot often told me:  “Anybody can learn to paint, not everybody can be an artist.”  Holgate had made some wonderful wood engravings, a discipline he had once taught at the Montreal Museum.  He still could make some prints within his limited edition and I bought them when I could.  Eventually he instructed me to give the wood blocks to the Museum as a gift and for study by students and artists.  We acted as executors for the little that was left after the death of the artist, and we kept in touch with his widow.

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"Retreating Snow", March 1946

Oil on panel 8.1/2" x 10.1/2" (SOLD)

Edwin Holgate, R.C.A.  (1892-1977)

"Madeleine", 1937

Oil on panel 16" x 12.3/8" (SOLD)