Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Come Discover the Eighth Member of the Group of Seven, Edwin Holgate

Ottawa - October 4, 2006

The National Gallery of Canada presents the largest retrospective ever devoted to the work of Canadian painter Edwin Holgate (1892-1977). Edwin Holgate, being presented from 6 October 2006 to 7 January 2007, will offer visitors a broad spectrum of works from this twentieth century artist, who was a major figure on the Montreal art scene and in the history of Canadian art. Conceived by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and presented by Bombardier at the National Gallery, the exhibit features over 150 works that include paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints, notebooks, book illustrations and archival photographs.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Holgate was considered one of the finest Canadian artists specializing in portraiture and the representation of the human body. Dubbed the eighth member of the Group of Seven by his peers he was as well known in Anglophone and Francophone artists circles. An appreciated and respected teacher, Holgate taught at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal from 1926 to 1935 and at the Montreal Art Association art school (which later became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), from 1934 to 1936 and from 1938 to 1940. He taught some of the great names in Québec and Canadian painting, including Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean Paul Lemieux and Stanley Cosgrove.

Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, has made the following comment regarding Holgate’s career: “Edwin Holgate was a Montreal artist and a great Canadian painter, attached to Québec’s rural culture yet open to the world. Portraits, landscapes and scenes of daily life are depicted with mastery but, above all, Holgate’s sensibility and expressiveness went beyond mere representation and questioned the human relationship to nature. This exhibition of Holgate’s work shows us an artist of talent, captivated by everything around him, but especially by the human dimension of things.”

The exhibition follows a chronological path and presents various aspects of this multifaceted artist’s work as an acclaimed draftsman, painter, engraver, book illustrator, war artist and muralist. Famous for his portraits and studies of nudes, Edwin Holgate was also known for his landscapes of Québec and showed himself to be a master of wood engraving. The exhibition deals with all aspects of his artistic production: his first works painted in Montreal, his training in Paris, the portraits he made of his family and his circle of Montreal friends, the paintings and engravings of his trip to the Skeena River in British Columbia in 1926, and his works as a war artist in the two world wars.

Edwin Holgate is presented at the National Gallery of Canada thanks to the support of Bombardier; “It is with great pleasure that Bombardier presents this retrospective devoted to Edwin Holgate, one of our great painters. We are always proud to celebrate Canadian excellence and participate in spreading its influence. Commitment to excellence is one of our company’s fundamental values and we deeply believe in it,” says Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Bombardier Inc.

An audio-guide and a fully illustrated colour catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is the first major publication on Edwin Holgate since his death in 1977. It contains essays on unexplored aspects of the artist’s work such as his first artistic influences, the Quebec landscapes, nudes, engravings, portraits, the impact of his war experience and his works inspired by his visit of Skeena River in 1926. Published in English and French, the catalogue includes a complete chronology of the artist’s life, a list of works in the exhibition and an extensive bibliography. It is on sale at the National Gallery of Canada Bookstore.

Edwin Holgate was organized by Rosalind Pepall, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and former Curator of Canadian Art, in collaboration with Brian Foss, Professor of Art History at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University in Montreal. The exhibition was designed and sent on tour by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. After its appearance at the National Gallery of Canada, the exhibition will visit the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton from February 10 to April 15, 2007.

The National Gallery of Canada would like to thank Bombardier, its partner in this presentation, as well as its media partners, la Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC Television, LeDroit and The Ottawa Citizen.

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Nadia Seraiocco
Senior Media Relations Officer

Anne Tanguay
Manager, Public Relations