Artwork by William Goodridge Roberts,  Oat Field in the Sun

Goodridge Roberts
Oat Field in the Sun

oil on board
signed lower right; Estate Inventory No. 2972 (inscribed on the reverse)
24 x 36 ins ( 61 x 91.4 cms )

Auction Estimate: $8,000.00$6,000.00 - $8,000.00

Price Realized $5,750.00
Sale date: March 8th 2017

Dominion Gallery, Montreal
Gallery One, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Sandra Paikowsky, “Goodridge Roberts, 1904-1974”, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1998, pages 119-120

“Oat Field in the Sun” (1950) is exemplary of William Goodridge Roberts' numerous expressive landscape paintings of rural Quebec. The artist had spent his summers of the 1940s painting in a number of different regions of Eastern Canada, including Georgian Bay, Outaouais, the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships and Charlevoix. In the summers of 1949 and 1950, Roberts travelled to Baie St Paul, where he set a goal for himself to create a minimum of one-hundred works in a single summer, signifying his growing confidence. In a letter to his poet-sister Dorothy Leisner, Roberts wrote: “My reputation is growing pretty rapidly, which is a good thing from the point of view of future income and what's more important I really think my work is developing steadily.”

Roberts' paintings of this time, such as “Oat Field in the Sun”, are much more traditional in contrast with many of his contemporaries in Quebec, as the province had a thriving “avant-garde” art scene. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 1950 Spring Show was regarded as a site for political protest by the avant-garde. Protesters objected to the exclusions of Jean-Paul Mousseau, Marcelle Ferron, Marcel Barbeau, and other young automatistes. Their placards demanding “un jury indépendant” were directed against Jury III, composed of more conservative and traditional artists, namely William Goodridge Roberts, Stanley Cosgrove, and Jacques Godefroy De Tonnancour. Roberts' own two landscape paintings that were featured in the show are said to have “caused much less of a stir”.

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William Goodridge Roberts
(1904 - 1974) Canadian Group of Painters, RCA

Roberts was born in Barbados in 1904 to a prominent Canadian literary family. His father, Theodore, was a poet, novelist, and journalist. Roberts began his studies at Montreal's Ecole des Beaux-Arts but, encouraged by his art-critic aunt, Mary Fanton Roberts, he enrolled at New York's Art Students League. His New York schooling would prove to be a major influence on his career.

During the 1930s, Roberts lived, painted, and taught in Ontario. He was the very first artist-in-residence at Queens University in Kingston. Refusing to incorporate nationalist content into his work, Roberts became recognized for his modernist approach. In the 1940s, Roberts moved to Montreal and continued painting and teaching. He was admired by Quebec's francophone art community who saw in his work a reflection of the modernist figurative tradition from France, known in Montreal as "living art." His works were equally divided into the themes of landscapes, portraits and still lifes; all are textbook examples of each style. The artist's last major retrospective was held at the National Gallery of Canada in 1969. He died in January 1974.