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Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977)
Mutton Bay, 1932
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977)
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977) Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977) Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Edwin Holgate, R.C.A. (1892-1977)
Detailed Framed Verso
EDWIN HOLGATE, R.C.A. (1892-1977)
Mutton Bay, 1932
Oil on panel 8 1/2" x 10 1/2"
Signed, l.r. : `EH`.
Private Collection, Toronto;
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal;
Private Collection, Toronto.
  More about this painting  
Holgate’s Mutton Bay is a precious and extremely rare painting of this region, still remote today. Rich in colour, Holgate has found his composition perching himself above his subject, on the hills overlooking Mutton Bay, a perspective we have seen in other well-exhibited works by the master.

Edwin Holgate studied with Cullen and Brymner, was an important member of the Beaver Hall Group in Montreal and joined the Group of Seven in 1929. He visited the remote village of Mutton Bay on the Lower North Shore (Basse-Côte-Nord) of the St. Lawrence in 1932 while sketching in Labrador, painting scenes celebrating the simple and traditional ways of the communities.

Mutton Bay is a small, isolated fishing village on the namesake bay on the Lower North Shore of the St. Lawrence. It is unlikely that there ever were any sheep in this area and the name probably refers to the “moutons” or whitecaps of the seafoam or the snow-dusted rounded hills which resemble a flock of sheep.

Though most of the isolated villages dotted along the shoreline south of Blanc Sablon and Harrington Harbour (where La Grande Séduction was filmed), still do not have a road linking them, Mutton Bay is connected to the neighbouring village of La Tabatière by a 9 kilometre summer road (unplowed in winter) that provides some spectacular views of the gulf from the mountains. It is likely from that hilltop location that Holgate chose to admire the perspective of this picturesque scene.
Edwin Holgate remembered 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 one 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.

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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.
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