Lot #10

Goodridge Roberts
Still Life in the Artist’s Studio

oil on board
signed lower right; inscribed “372” on the reverse
29 x 36.25 ins ( 73.7 x 92.1 cms )

Provenance:
Acquired directly from the Artist
By descent to the present Private Collection, Toronto
William Goodridge Roberts was born in Barbados in 1904 to a prominent Canadian literary family. He studied at Montreal's École des Beaux-Arts and later at the Art Students League in New York. His New York schooling would prove to be a major influence on his career. During the 1930s, Roberts painted and taught in Ontario. He was the very first artist-in-residence at Queen’s University in Kingston. Refusing to incorporate nationalist content into his work, Roberts became recognized for his modernist approach. In the 1940s, Roberts moved to Montreal and continued painting and teaching. He was admired by Quebec's francophone art community who saw in his work a reflection of the modernist figurative tradition from France, known in Montreal as "living art." His works were equally divided into the themes of landscapes, portraits and still lifes; all are exemplary representations of each style.

More so than his Group of Seven contemporaries, Goodridge Roberts placed a special emphasis on the still-life, returning to the motif repeatedly over a thirty-year period. In the early 1960s, Roberts explored several variations on the subject of an unassuming studio table still life, rendering the painted surface in thick, confident impasto. He typically made a point of highlighting the studio setting, as seen in “Still Life in the Artist’s Studio”.

Behind a carefully arranged table setting of fruit, ceramics and books on a bright red tablecloth, a calendar hangs on the wall and the viewer is able to glimpse through an open bay window to see a snowy street. The lively, rigorous brushwork adds energy to the composition with the colourful table and its contents. The influence of early Cubism is acknowledged through the flattened perspective of the table-top and the reductive forms of the fruit. Roberts consistently painted directly from life, but continued to find new, inventive aesthetic territory to explore within the traditional genre.

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William Goodridge Roberts
(1904 - 1974) Canadian Group of Painters, RCA

Roberts was born in Barbados in 1904 to a prominent Canadian literary family. His father, Theodore, was a poet, novelist, and journalist. Roberts began his studies at Montreal's Ecole des Beaux-Arts but, encouraged by his art-critic aunt, Mary Fanton Roberts, he enrolled at New York's Art Students League. His New York schooling would prove to be a major influence on his career.

During the 1930s, Roberts lived, painted, and taught in Ontario. He was the very first artist-in-residence at Queens University in Kingston. Refusing to incorporate nationalist content into his work, Roberts became recognized for his modernist approach. In the 1940s, Roberts moved to Montreal and continued painting and teaching. He was admired by Quebec's francophone art community who saw in his work a reflection of the modernist figurative tradition from France, known in Montreal as "living art." His works were equally divided into the themes of landscapes, portraits and still lifes; all are textbook examples of each style. The artist's last major retrospective was held at the National Gallery of Canada in 1969. He died in January 1974.