Artwork by Horatio Walker,  The Potato Gatherers

Horatio Walker
The Potato Gatherers

watercolour and gouache
signed and dated 1908 lower right
24 x 18 ins ( 61 x 45.7 cms )

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

Price Realized $6,000.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2021

Masters Gallery, Calgary
Private Collection, British Columbia
Pierre-Georges Roy, “L’Île d’Orlèans”, Quebec, 1928, reproduced page 392
F. Newlin Price, “Horatio Walker”, New York & Montreal, 1928, unpaginated, Potato Pickers reproduced plate 25
J. Russell Harper, “Painting in Canada”, Toronto, 1966, pages 209-11
Horatio Walker exhibits a kinship for the Barbizon tradition, wishing to depict the dignity of labour and ordinary life in his art. A “spiritual kinship” was struck with the countryside in 1880, when Walker embarked on a six-month walk along the St. Lawrence River, beginning in L’Epiphanie near Montreal and ending in Quebec City. As J. Russell Harper describes, Walker “visited country folk in their homes, smoked their “tabac canadien”, slept in barns at night, observed the rural ways, and always was sketching, sketching.” Inspired by this excursion, Walker executed “The Potato Gatherers” - an honest depiction of two workers toiling in the fields. As F. Newlin Price states, Walker’s paintings are “authentic documents of peasant life against an unstained sky, of a people of simple faith and rugged health, ruddy and buxom and wholesome”.

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Horatio Walker
(1858 - 1938) RCA

Horatio Walker was born in 1858 in midwestern Ontario. His formal schooling ended at the Listowel Public School in 1872; he never went on to pursue formal academic training in art. At the age of 15, Walker moved to Toronto to apprentice with the photographic firm Notman and Fraser. It was a fortunate opportunity, as several successful artists worked also there; Walker learned watercolour from Robert Gagnon, miniature portrait painting from John Fraser, and painting from Lucius O’Brien and Henri Perre.
Walker was a member of several artists' organizations, including the American Watercolor Society, the Royal Canadian Academy of Art, the Society of American Artists, the National Academy of Design, and the British Institute of Watercolours. He was a founding member of the Canadian Art Club, which elected him as its president in 1915. In 1928 he officially retired and moved to Sainte-Petronille, Quebec, where he died in 1938.