Artwork by Robert Wakeham Pilot,  Barbados, BWI

Robert Pilot
Barbados, BWI

oil on board
signed lower left; signed, titled and dated 1959 on the reverse
12.5 x 16.75 ins ( 31.8 x 42.5 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$9,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $12,000.00
Sale date: June 9th 2021

Gallerie Fore, Winnipeg
Private Collection, Winnipeg
A.K. Prakash, Impressionism in Canada, A Journey of Rediscovery, Stuttgart, 2015, page 621
After travelling throughout Europe, Robert Pilot decided to follow in the steps of other Canadian artists and visit the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados. By the time he arrived in the country, he was already an established and respected artist in Montreal. The early influence of his stepfather Maurice Cullen and his studies with William Brymner were impactful, while further influence was drawn from other Impressionist artists. As A.K. Prakash writes, “[Pilot] was influenced in particular by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and J.W. Morrice - artists, who, in his mind, found the right balance between form and atmosphere.”

“Barbados, BWI,” Pilot’s depiction of a Barbadian harbour, is very different in subject matter and mood from his paintings of snowy Quebec, which he usually captured with more muted, cool colours. Here Pilot has completely lightened his palette and his application of paint follows that of Impressionism. He employs a loose broken brushstroke to create the shimmering water of the harbour and builds up the architecture of the colonial buildings with thickly applied pigment, which is all covered by an intense bright blue sky capturing the atmosphere of a sunny Caribbean day.

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Robert Wakeham Pilot
(1898 - 1967) PRCA

Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, Robert Pilot moved to Montreal in 1910 when his widowed mother married well-known Canadian artist Maurice Cullen. Pilot found he was attracted to the artistic life as he helped his stepfather with chores in the studio and began sketching. He studied figure drawing at the Royal Canadian Academy and learned landscape painting with Cullen. As a student at the Art Association of Montreal, he was recognized as a gifted pupil by instructor William Brymner, who offered instruction to the penniless young artist free of charge on the condition that he would pay the fees when he was able.

After serving overseas in WWI he returned to Montreal and was invited to participate in the first Group of Seven exhibition in 1920. For a time he concentrated on the etching medium, with the desire to develop his own style apart from that of his stepfather. He was given the opportunity to study in Paris with the help of a generous patron and travelled to Paris in 1920. There he studied at the Academie Julian and exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1922. On his return to Canada he was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy. Exhibiting with the RCA gave him more visibility and some of his works were acquired by the National Gallery of Canada. After several successful exhibitions he travelled abroad painting in France, Spain, and North Africa. In addition to oil paintings and etchings he worked in pastel and completed several mural commissions in public buildings. More successful shows followed and he continued to paint, although he served his country once again in WW2. His Canadian impressionist painting style was shaped by his years in France, the influence of his stepfather, Maurice Cullen, and the work of J. W. Morrice, whom he greatly admired. He was elected president of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1952. Pilot died in 1967 and was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1969.