Artwork by Walter Joseph Phillips,  Summer Idyll
Thumbnail of Artwork by Walter Joseph Phillips,  Summer Idyll Thumbnail of Artwork by Walter Joseph Phillips,  Summer Idyll Thumbnail of Artwork by Walter Joseph Phillips,  Summer Idyll

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Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703

Lot #4

W.J. Phillips
Summer Idyll

colour woodcut, mounted to card
signed, titled and numbered 40/100 in the lower margin; dated 1926 within the plate
18 x 12 ins ( 45.7 x 30.5 cms ) ( plate size )

Estimated: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Provenance:
Private Collection, New Brunswick
Literature:
Nancy Green, Kate Rutherford and Toni Tomlinson, “Walter J. Phillips”, Portland, Oregon, 2013, illustrated page 28
Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole, “Phillips in Print: The Selected Writings of Walter J. Phillips on Canadian Nature and Art”, Winnipeg, 1982, page 30, illustrated on the dust jacket and page 31
Roger Boulet, “The Tranquility and the Turbulence”, Toronto, 1981, illustrated page 71
Roger Boulet, “Walter J. Phillips: The Complete Graphic Works”, Toronto, 1981, illustrated page 239
Walter Joseph Phillips is revered as one of Canada’s most accomplished printmakers, with artworks rich in masterful technique, graceful design and harmonious balance. The formation of a colour woodcut is a long process. The first step is to create a sketch in the field, then produce a watercolour in the studio and then, design the woodblock, which involves carving the blocks and preparing the paper. “Summer Idyll” is the largest woodcut ever executed by Phillips - eighteen woodblocks were utilized in its creation. Dissatisfied with the first run of this subject, Phillips went on to destroy it.

In the summer of 1925, the Phillips family visited Lake Muskoka in Ontario for three weeks and vacationed in a cottage on Big Island. Phillips and his wife, Gladys, had six children and the artist often had the children pose for him as models in outdoor locations. The natural beauty of Big Island inspired Phillips. As the artist shared, “The weather was glorious, the air was soft, the sandy shores inciting. My young family disported itself in the water and along the shore all day long. Here was an exceptional opportunity. I made sketches of the children...They made splendid willing models.” Upon his return to Winnipeg after this holiday, Phillips created woodcuts from these summer sketches. “Summer Idyll”, recognized as one of his most accomplished woodcuts, depicts an incandescent scene of happiness as his daughter reaches her arms towards the butterflies flying by. The charm of this work is in the detail, from the gentle ripple of the water, to the soft lichen on the rocks, to the lush grass. “Summer Idyll” evokes the innocence of childhood and is executed with an exquisite technique that only Phillips could accomplish.

In 1926, The Graphic Arts Club of Toronto awarded “Summer Idyll” a bronze medal for the best colour woodcut, welcome recognition and appreciation for the artist’s great skill in this medium.
Sale Date: December 3rd 2020

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Preview this item at:

Cowley Abbott
326 Dundas St West
Toronto ON M5T 1G5
Ph. 1(416)479-9703


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Walter Joseph Phillips
(1884 - 1963) RCA

W.J. Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1884. Trained at the Birmingham School of Art, he was a successful watercolour artist in England before he and his wife, Gladys, emigrated to Winnipeg in 1913. Although watercolour remained his primary medium, the woodblock print was an enduring interest which brought his work to a wider audience. Among W.J. Phillips’ best-known and loved images in watercolour and woodblock print are those which depict family holidays on Lake of the Woods from the teens until 1925. In 1940, Walter Phillips was asked to be artist in residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts. He moved to Calgary in 1941 where he taught at the provincial Institute of Technology and Art.

W.J. Phillips’ works are housed in galleries across Canada including The National Gallery of Canada, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies as well as collections abroad in London, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Japan, and private collections the world over. The most extensive private collection of work by Phillips was gifted to the city of Winnipeg. Permanently housed in the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park, the Crabb collection is available for public viewing year round.