Artwork by Robert N. Hurley,  Landscape with Grain Elevator

Robert Hurley
Landscape with Grain Elevator

signed and dated 1954 lower right
9.75 x 13 ins ( 24.8 x 33 cms ) ( sight )

Auction Estimate: $700.00$500.00 - $700.00

Price Realized $900.00
Sale date: March 21st 2023

Private Collection, Toronto

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Robert N. Hurley
(1894 - 1980)

Robert Newton Hurley was born in 1894 in London, England, where he trained as an apprentice printer-compositor until his mid 20s. He had no formal training in the arts - his only experience with art being frequent trips to the museums and galleries of London as a young man. Following

During and after WWI he served in the Suffolk Regiment (1917-1920). He became interested in painting and began studying on his own. Later he took at A.W. Rich water colourist course and the Richmond-Little John Water Colour Technique, also he frequented galleries in London where he saw the works of John Sell Cotman, Turner and others and was very much influenced by Cotman. He immigrated to Canada in 1923 before he settled in Saskatoon in 1930.

Unemployed at the age of forty during the depression, Hurley began to paint with berry juices and a toothbrush. From 1933-35 he took night classes from established artist Ernest Lindner and quickly became well known in Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada for his treatment of the prairie landscape. He first exhibited in a 1935 exhibition in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Society of Artists. Hurley focused primarily on prairie landscapes and paid particular attention to subjects such as grain elevators, receding roads, and telephone poles. His romantic use of colour and stylized objects became his trademark. In 1933 Hurley won a first prize and a third prize at the Saskatchewan Provincial Exhibition and continued to win prizes annually in that event. In 1944 Dr. Max Stern of the Dominion Gallery, Montreal, was so impressed with Hurley’s work that he purchased 21 of them which he later exhibited at this gallery. By 1945 he was employed as a technician in the Dominion Plant Pathology Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan. Some of the influences of research were carried over into his painting when he later began to experiment with mono prints.

In 1951 Premier T.C. Douglas presented four of his watercolours to Their Royal Highnesses Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on behalf of the Province of Saskatchewan. The paintings were of Saskatchewan in spring, summer, autumn and winter. In 1958 the Saskatchewan Government presented Hurley with a $2,000 retainer fee for three years in addition to paying him for each picture he did for them. This assistance from the government enabled him to devote all his time to painting.

He also painted still lifes, portraits, and in an experimental phase he began to produce works that he called "Hurleyniks," using everyday objects such as string, cardboard and lace that had been pressed into paint and transferred to paper creating images of fish, birds and other objects. Hurley received an honourary degree from the University of Regina. He remained in Saskatchewan until retiring to Victoria, British Columbia in 1963 where he remained until his death in 1980.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979