Artwork by Robert Wakeham Pilot,  Sillery from the Battlefields, Quebec

Robert Pilot
Sillery from the Battlefields, Quebec

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1948 lower right; titled on the stretcher
19 x 24.25 ins ( 48.3 x 61.6 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$8,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $9,000.00
Sale date: December 3rd 2020

Private Collection, Quebec
Private Collection, Toronto
Robert Pilot was a masterful painter of the subtle harmonies of light and colour. The artist found ample inspiration from Quebec and its environs, here depicting Sillery, which was once an independent municipality, incorporated into Quebec City in 2002. Pilot has chosen to depict Sillery from across the river, with the striking spire of Saint-Michel de Sillery Church standing tall amongst the atmospheric clouds and sky. The nostalgic quality of this composition - with the rising plume of smoke from a distant boat in the wharf, and the striking autumnal colours - is a quintessential Pilot painting of charm and artistry. This vantage point of Sillery was one of Pilot’s favourites, and he often returned to it over the course of his career. “Sillery from the Battlefields, Quebec”, executed in 1948, is closely modeled after “Gold Autumn, Sillery”, which is held in the collection of the Musée national des beaux- arts du Québec and was painted prior to 1937.

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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.