Lot #92

A.C. Leighton
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signed lower right; titled on the backing on the reverse
14.75 x 17.75 ins ( 37.5 x 45.1 cms ) ( sight )

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Hodgins, auction, Calgary, 28 May 2012
Private Collection, Calgary

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Alfred Crocker Leighton
(1901 - 1965)

Born in Hastings, Sussex, England, he received his formal education at Hastings, and in London at the Hornsey School. He had no formal painting lessons but received advice and criticism from a friend, E. Leslie Badham, RBA. Leighton did paintings for a commercial organization. It was while he was filling a commission for this firm at Mansion House and Temple Bar in London that Badham who had dropped in for a cup of tea, discovered his work and advised him to try for the exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists. Leighton entered two pictures in the exhibition and his work was well received. As a result, he was elected a Associate of the Academy. He was in London from 1920 to 1927. During that period, he taught classes, filled commissions and visited Canada in 1925.

oN his second visit to Canada in 1928, he was commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway to paint a series of scenes of the prairies and Rockies. He travelled by pack train in the mountains making all his paintings out-of-doors. He spent most of the summer on the trail and then after a solo showing in Calgary where he sold twelve or so paintings, he arrived in Vancouver to continue the CPR commission to paint scenes of the CPR docks, and of that city, also of Victoria.

He exhibited his work at the James Layland galleries in Vancouver in the autumn of 1928 and by 1930 had settled in Calgary where among other things he was an instructor at the Institute of Technology and Art. In 1929 he became full member of the Royal society of British Artists. He held an exhibition of forty-four watercolours in the Elizabethan room of the Hudson's Bay store, Calgary, in 1930. This show included many of the paintings he had done that summer also a canvas”Lake of the Hanging Glaciers” which he had completed in 1928 and exhibited in the Paris salon in 1929. In the show as well, were a number of paintings completed in Victoria, BC, which were used as illustrations for a publication presented by the CPR and purchased later by L. Murray Gibbon.

In the years that followed, Leighton exhibited many times in Calgary, Edmonton, and in other cities in Canada. He became a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour in 1930 and himself founded the Alberta Society of Artists in 1931. By 1934 he had attracted the attention of the Toronto “Saturday Night” who carried the news that he was holding summer art classes for selected art students, from the Province of Alberta, at the Brewster Dude Ranch near Banff. This same year he had the unusual distinction of having three of his water colours accepted for showing at the Royal Academy Exhibition in London England.

In 1935 he was elected Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy. In 1936 an exhibition of one hundreds of his water colours was in view at the Fine Art Galleries of the T. Eaton Company, Montreal, including scenes which he had also done in Britain. “The Gazette” in review of the exhibition noted, “The charm of the picturesque has much to do with the appeal of his windmills, his old buildings and boats, his bridges and castles...He has brought his appreciation of the colourful to Canada, too, and he shows in a romantic light the drydocks at Vancouver, the ferry there, an old paddlewheeler at New Westminister, and even the grain elevators of the prairies...he is able to do justice to the Rockies, and his views of Cathedral Mountain, Mount Assinboine, the Crow's Nest Pass, Floe Lake and Tumbling Glacier, are notable for a bulk and solidity that are not always found in water colours. Whatever his subjects, whether castle or windmill, Sussex village or ridge in the Rockies, Mr. Leighton builds it up into a substantial well-integrated design and he does it with an uncompromising line and a sureness of colour.”

Leighton did a number of oil paintings as well of landscapes and flower studies; he also worked in pastels. His paintings were reproduced in “The Studio”, “The Sphere” of London, England, and in “La Revue Moderne” in Paris. He had completed paintings for English Railways, Vickers Limited (London, Eng.), as well as CRP; illustrated two books “Far Horizons” and “Victoria, BC”; had organized the Calgary Sketch Club and the Medicine Hat Sketch Club, given lectures on art appreciation for the University of Alberta also on art and industry. He remained Head of the art department of the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art until 1938 when he retired. He spent several years in Britain then settled on a ranch near Midnapore south of Calgary. The Gainsborough Galleries in Calgary exhibited forty of his paintings in 1964 the year before his death.

A.C. Leighton is represented in the following collections: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Vancouver Art Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Edmonton Art Gallery; the New York Central Reference Library; many Canadian and British corporate collections as well as private collections throughout Canada, particularly in the Calgary area. He was a cousin of the noted British painter Frederic Leighton (Lord Leighton of Stretton, 1830-1896).

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