Artwork by Edwin Headley Holgate,  Autumn Leaves

Edwin Holgate
Autumn Leaves

oil on canvas
signed lower left
17 x 21 ins ( 43.2 x 53.3 cms )

Auction Estimate: $120,000.00$90,000.00 - $120,000.00

Price Realized $75,000.00
Sale date: May 25th 2017

Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal
Private Collection, Calgary
Dennis Reid, Edwin H. Holgate, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1976, page 22
Holgate is highly regarded for both modernist figural and landscape works. After moving to Morin Heights in the Laurentian region of Quebec in 1946, the artist naturally gravitated more firmly toward the breathtaking nature that surrounded him. “Autumn Leaves” dates to 1955, a time when Holgate was breaking off all contact with the Montreal art scene in order to embrace an isolated life in the country. Dennis Reid writes that “years of solitary communion with the familiar country around his home brought him to a point of easy intimacy with his subject.” In “Autumn Leaves,” the warm light of an autumn day permeates the canvas, accentuating Holgate's bold and evenly-toned use of colour in the foliage. The artist was particularly interested in the periods of rapid change of the Canadian landscape between seasons, such as melting snow or the autumn foliage. Holgate illustrates this phenomenon in Autumn Leaves, demonstrated in the simultaneous presence of bare branches, bright red maple trees, and leaves that are still green. Reid describes the artist's Laurentian works as “among the most sensual of his works, they reveal across every inch of their surfaces the long hours of concentration that have brought to them the gentle glow of life.”

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Edwin Headley Holgate
(1892 - 1977) Group of Seven, RCA

Edwin Holgate was born in Allandale, Ontario. Holgate began his art education at the Art Association of Montreal studying under William Brymner who was also A.Y. Jackson's teacher. In 1912 he went to Paris where he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under Claudio Castelucho and later under Lucien Simon and René Ménard. He was in Russia at the outbreak of the First World War. He returned to Canada where he enlisted and served with the 5th Canadian Division Artillery in France (1916-19). He married Mary Frances Rittenhouse in 1920 and returned to Paris where he continued his studies. There he attended the Colarossi under Adolph Milman, a Russian refugee.

He returned with his wife to Canada in 1922 and opened a studio. He taught wood engraving at the Ecole des Beaux Arts for six years. In Montreal he enjoyed the friendship of A.Y. Jackson, Clarence Gagnon, Mabel May, Lilas Newton, Randolph Hewton, and many of the younger artists who became known as the Beaver Hall Hill Group. Holgate was a good skier and he would take trips to various parts of Quebec to sketch during the winters, sometimes at Baie St. Paul where A.Y. Jackson, Clarence Gagnon, Mabel May and others would congregate.

In 1926 he accompanied A.Y. Jackson and Marius Barbeau to the Skeena River area in British Columbia. Barbeau had been investigating the condition of the Indian totem poles, many of which were restored by the C.N.R. engineer Mr. T.B. Campbell. Holgate and Jackson made a number of sketches of the poles and the Indian villages in the area. From his sketches, Holgate made several large canvases. One is in the collection of the National Gallery and entitled is “Totem Poles, Gitsegiuklas”.

Holgate became the eighth member of the Group of Seven in 1931 and remained a member of the Group until it disbanded in 1933. From it arose the Canadian Group of Painters of which he was a founding member. Paul Duval noted that Holgate and Varley were the only members of the Group who drew and painted nudes. Holgate was well known also for his portraits and did many striking character studies of inhabitants of Canadian bush country. The Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada have his nude studies in their collections.

During the Second World War, Holgate served overseas as an official Canadian war artist with the R.C.A.F. and painted mainly portraits of flying officers. Holgate’s wood-engravings are exceptionally well done and interesting. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy (A.R.C.A. 1934 - R.C.A. 1935). His work has been exhibited in many group shows over the years. He is represented in many collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the McMichael Collection.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979