Artwork by James Blomfield,  Country Church (SE Saviour’s Barkerville BC)

James Blomfield
Country Church (SE Saviour’s Barkerville BC)

oil on board
signed and dated 1943 lower right
7.25 x 10 ins ( 18.4 x 25.4 cms )

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Private Collection, Toronto

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James Blomfield
(1872 - 1951)

Born at Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, he arrived in Canada with his father in 1887 and they settled in Vancouver, B.C. In 1894 Blomfield illuminated an address of welcome to Lord Aberdeen who was then Governor General of Canada and on a visit to British Columbia. Lord Aberdeen was so taken with his fine work that he sponsored the youth’s art education in England and Belgium.

Blomfield went to America and spent a year at the Art Student’s League of New York and afterwards returned to Vancouver. His paintings derived from West Coast Indian totemic art were hung in Government House at Victoria. Also in that city he decorated the Parliament Buildings and memorial windows for Christ Church Cathedral. In Vancouver he designed a memorial fountain for Stanley Park. He went again to the United States and taught at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art where he was a professor of design. He returned to Canada and in 1920 settled in Toronto. There he did paintings of many churches and his work was held in high regard for its accuracy in architectural detail. He designed the entrance to the Toronto Bathing Pavilion in a technique called sgraffito which consisted of a number of layers of plaster, each of a different colour, superimposed. The upper layers were cut away to reveal the colour below. He exhibited his watercolours, monotints and colour etchings at the Eaton Fine Art Galleries.

For a time he was staff artist and writer for the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1943 William Colgate mentioned him as an artist who found most of his subject matter in and around Toronto and went on to describe his work, “ . . . his watercolour drawings though moderate in size, even small, exhibit a breadth of treatment and freshness of approach not often seen . . .” In 1951 James Blomfield died in Toronto from injuries he received when struck by an automobile.

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