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Albert H. Robinson, R.C.A. (1881-1956)
Quebec Harbour
This painting is available for sale
Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Albert H. Robinson, R.C.A. (1881-1956)
ALBERT H. ROBINSON, R.C.A. (1881-1956)
Quebec Harbour
Oil on panel 11 1/4 " x 13"
Signed l.l. Albert Robinson

Inscribed by the artist on the reverse, "#25 - Quebec Harbour $75, AH Robinson"
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal;
Estate of the late William. I.M. Turner Jr, Montreal.
  More about this painting  
From Robinson’s early days in Montreal he had an interest in boats, docks and the compositional opportunities the port of Montreal provided. His cousin, Robert Aiken, then Montreal harbour paymaster, would allow him to paint the grain elevators, boats and docks without being disturbed. His pursuit of composition provided by harbours and river views continued through his maturity, resulting in some of his finest paintings, be they of Montreal, Québec City or the villages dotting the St. Lawrence River. Robinson was a colourist of the first order. One remarks at what a different and less successful painting Quebec Harbour would have been without his confident splash of turquoise immediately off centre.
 Albert H. Robinson Biography 
Albert Robinson was born in 1881 in Hamilton, Ontario. Initially self taught, he obtained his first art-related job one summer after high school; Chief Illustrator at the Hamilton Times which payed him $5 a week. By 1903 Robinson had saved enough to continue his schooling overseas. That year he moved to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian and subsequently at the École des Beaux-Arts under Gabriel Ferrier. While in France, Robinson began to paint in watercolour and oil, and was introduced to the English painter Thomas William Marshall, with whom he traveled and painted for two summers.

Returning to Hamilton, Robinson got a job in the studio of John S. Gordon. There, in 1906, he exhibited in his first group exhibition. His abilities soon drew the attention of Mr. and Mrs. William Davis who, believing that Robinson would have a better future in Montreal, found him a studio there, guaranteed his rent and introduced him to some of the leading figures in Canadian art including William Brymner, then President of the Royal Canadian Academy (R.C.A.), Edmond Dyonnet, R.C.A. Secretary, and Maurice Cullen. His first paintings were exhibited at the Royal Canadian Academy in 1909. In 1911, at age 30, he became one of the youngest members to be elected associate of the R.C.A. The National Gallery of Canada bought its first Robinson in 1912, and several more after the First World War, during which Robinson inspected munitions at Dominion Copper Products. He became a full member of the R.C.A. in 1920, the same year he exhibited alongside the Group of Seven in their first exhibition as one of three guest exhibitors. Randolph Hewton and Robinson’s good friend Robert Pilot were the other two. Just before the war, Robinson had been introduced to A.Y. Jackson and the two went to Europe to paint shortly thereafter. After the war, these two artists, along with Hewton, Clarence Gagnon and Edwin Holgate, organized painting trips to some of the most colourful areas of Quebec, along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City. By now Robinson was a member of the Arts Club, exhibiting annually at the Royal Canadian Academy and the Art Association of Montreal. Robinson was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933.

Disaster struck Robinson in 1933 when he suffered a heart attack and subsequent complications, including arthritis, which forced his early and complete retirement from painting. He was ordered to take up golf to placate the arthritis and, although he was eventually forced to give this up, too, it was at the Marlborough Country Club that he met Marion Ethelwynne Russel, who he married in 1952. Although Robinson remained energetic and gracious until his death in 1956 he was never able to lift a brush after his heart attack. As a result, great Robinson works are extremely rare and now, highly sought after.

In 1994 Walter Klinkhoff wrote, "I have always held Albert Robinson in the highest esteem. He has been my personal favourite Canadian artist and I would rate him amongst the very best. I know of at least three distinguished Canadian artists who declared without hesitation that Robinson was their favourite also. They were Harold Beament, Henri Masson and Robert Pilot." (Walter Klinkhoff, Albert H. Robinson Retrospective Exhibition, 1994; p. 1). He is known as a most distinguished colourist, "of the first order", according to the Group of Seven’s Dr. Arthur Lismer. Robinson had a notable awareness of modernist techniques, and he rendered his paintings successfully by reducing the landscape to only its most essential, and joyous elements. He is also greatly admired for his ability to accomplish the remarkable task of delivering harmonious compositions in low tone and high key.

In 1956 Thomas R. Lee refered to a description of Robinson’s work as "‘purely Canadian – with no trace of European influence’". He describes the artist himself as "A Painter’s Painter" with "…no commercial influence at all; he painted for the love of painting" (Thomas R. Lee, Albert H. Robinson: "A Painter’s Painter", Private pub.; no page number).

The career of Albert Robinson has been celebrated and honoured numerously, beginning with a joint retrospective exhibition by the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the National Gallery of Canada in 1955, and subsequent exhibitions at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery in 1982-83, and at Galerie Walter Klinkhoff in 1994. His paintings can be found in the permanent collections of the Luxembourg, in Paris, the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec, Canada House in London, England and several other institutions.

© Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc.

Albert H. Robinson
"A Painter's Painter"

Albert Henry Robinson was born in Hamilton in 1881. He was the baby in a family of five sons and a daughter. There was nothing in the rest of the family that pointed towards a career in the arts for Robinson, although, he chuckles, both his mother and his father each claimed that any talent came from them.

Robinson had the usual public school and high school education. he can't recall precisely how or when he started to draw. Nobody told him to try it; nobody showed him how. He simply suddenly found himself being admonished in class for spending more time defacing his school books and less time on his studies....

Source: Galerie Walter Klinkhoff's Albert H. Robinson Retrospective Exhibition Catalogue (1994). We are grateful to Mrs. Thomas R. Lee who has so graciously allowed us to reprint excerpts from her husband's privately printed biography (1956).

Albert Robinson Exhibitions at Klinkhoff

21st Annual Retrospective Exhibition
September 10 - 24, 1994
Buy the limited edition catalogue $20
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