Artwork by Maxwell Bennett Bates,  House by the Sea

Maxwell Bates
House by the Sea

oil on canvas board
signed and dated 1952 lower right; signed and titled on the reverse
24 x 20 ins ( 61 x 50.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $5,000.00$4,000.00 - $5,000.00

Price Realized $5,280.00
Sale date: October 25th 2022

Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery, Picture Loan Program
Cooper Advertising, 1950s
Private Collection, Montreal
By descent, Private Collection, Saskatchewan
Cowley Abbott, auction, May 26, 2017, lot 34
Private Collection, Toronto
Nancy Townshend, Maxwell Bates: Landscapes / Paysages: 1948-1978, Medicine Hat Museum and Gallery, Medicine Hat, 1982, p. 9, 21 & 29
Bates returned to landscape painting immediately after his arrival back to Calgary in January 1946. Bates had spent 5 years in internment camps as a POW after being captured in France at the onset of the war. At this time, he received tremendous moral support to pursue his own personal expression from Jock Macdonald (head of the Provincial Institute of Technology in Calgary from 1946-7). Macdonald was a particularly important contact for Bates during this period, helping him adjust to post-war life, and encouraging Bates to consider landscapes as appropriate subject matter for painting.

In 1949, Bates married Mae Nielson and followed her back to her native New York. In 1949-50, he attended art classes at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, studying under the German Expressionist Max Beckmann, who taught Painting and Drawing. Bates’ landscapes from 1952-53, after he had returned to Calgary in 1951, reflect a painful exploration of potentially conflicting visual concerns such as local colour, naturalistic light and appear fairly abstract, with flattened rather than naturalistic space.

By the mid to late 1950s, Bates arrived at a personal style for his landscapes. By subtly introducing the qualities of simplicity and contrasts into the aesthetic ordering and arrangement of his paintings, Bates transcended his adopted Post-Impressionist-Fauvist tradition and began to contribute uniquely to the Canadian landscape tradition.

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Maxwell Bennett Bates
(1906 - 1980) RCA

Maxwell Bates was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1906. He studied at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary under Lars Haukeness in 1926-7. By the end of the twenties he and his friend Roy Stevenson were, according to R. L. Bloore "the most advanced painters in Western Canada." His abstracts were seen in Calgary as early as 1928. He spent the years 1931-1939 in London, exhibiting regularly with the Twenties Group. As a member of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1940 he was captured by the Germans and was interned in a prison camp from 1940-1945. Returning to Calgary in 1946 he worked as an architect. He then went to the United States and studied with Max Beckmann and Abraham Rattner at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, 1949-50.

For many years he was interested in Klee, Rouault, Beckmann, Kokoschka and Picasso. He collected Japanese colour prints and became very interested in the philosophy of art about which he wrote articles for Canadian Art and other magazines and periodicals. In painting he was influenced by the drawings of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and all the work of Goya, Daumier, Degas, J. L. Forain and Post-Impressionists. He was interested in street scenes, landscapes, still-lifes, and figure painting in what could be called a romantic vein. His media were oils, watercolours, chalks, and pen and inks. In printmaking he worked chiefly with lithography. An architect, MRAIC, M Inst. R.A., he designed St. Mary’s Cathedral, Calgary in partnership with A.W. Hodges, F.R.I.B.A.

He settled in Victoria, B.C., in 1961. His work has been exhibited in London, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, Manchester, Auckland, Philadelphia and all major Canadian cities. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were held in Regina and Edmonton (1960-61), Victoria (1966), Winnipeg (1968) and Vancouver (1973). He received many awards for his painting and was a Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy. The National Gallery of Canada has his canvas “Still Life” in their collection. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calgary in 1971.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977