Tuesday, 18 August 2015


(August 19, 1892 – May 21, 1977)
 A Canadian artist, painter and engraver. Member of the Group of Seven.

Edwin Holgate was born in Canada, but when he was 3 years old his family moved to Jamaica; they returned to Montreal six years later. At the age of 5 he was sent to boarding school in Toronto until his family returned. Those early years in Jamaica probably had an impact on his sense of colour and boarding school  must have influenced the aura of solitude which is evident in his work.

Holgate played a major role in Montreal's art community including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where he studied and taught. He also studied at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner (A. Y. Jackson's mentor) and later Maurice Cullen.

In 1912 Holgate studied in Paris and was traveling in the Ukraine at the outset of World War I. He was forced to cross Asia to return to Canada. His first exhibition was held at the Arts Club of Montreal in 1922. Holgate was considered the "eighth" member of the Group of Seven, being invited to join the group in 1930. He was known primarily as a portrait painter and for his nudes in outdoor settings painted during the 1930s. A versatile artist, he taught wood engraving at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montréal from 1928 to 1934. In 1935 he was elected associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Holgate worked as a war artist during World War II and when he returned, he found that the arts scene had changed, with the arrival of the Automatistes. He retreated to the Laurentians where he worked until his death in 1977.

The National Gallery of Canada held a retrospective of his work in 1975 and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts organized another retrospective in 2005.

— sometimes known as the Algonquin school
— a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933, originally consisting of

Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945),
Lawren Harris (1885–1970),
A. Y. Jackson (1882–1972),
Frank Johnston (1888–1949),
Arthur Lismer (1885–1969),
J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and
Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later,
A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926;
Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930; and
LeMoine Fitzgerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.


There are strong value contrasts in Holgate's work which is not a style I use much, but I think this painting of Gardenias is along those lines. It can be purchased here at Daily Paintworks.