Artwork by Robert Wakeham Pilot,  Quebec Winter

Robert Pilot
Quebec Winter

oil on canvas
signed lower left; signed and dated 1925 on the reverse
15.25 x 18 in ( 38.7 x 45.7 cm )

Auction Estimate: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Price Realized $21,600.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal
Masters Gallery, Calgary
Private Collection
A.K. Prakash, "Impressionism in Canada: A Journey of Rediscovery", Stuttgart, 2015, pages 621 and 632
Similar to his stepfather Maurice Cullen, Robert Pilot's most renowned work focuses on the villages and towns of Quebec and eastern Canada. Pilot’s poetic compositions share the same search for identity that motivated J.W. Morrice, Clarence Gagnon and Albert Robinson - his Quebec predecessors and counterparts. Pilot preferred to paint the landscape of Quebec, which he often frequented, recording the local conditions of the time and of people co-existing with nature. A.K. Prakash, describing the work for which Pilot received accolades throughout his life, says that through his work, the painter “offered his own interpretation of the Canadian landscape, one he handled with great visual clarity and sharp focus. Although he painted many charming subjects throughout Canada, Spain, Morocco, England, France, and Italy, it was the countryside and the urban life of old Quebec that were his preferred subjects – as they had been for Cullen, Suzor-Coté, and Gagnon before him.”

The warmth and gentle brushstrokes of "Quebec Winter" are synonymous with the celebrated painter’s ability to depict the province’s landscape with great charm and artistry. The painting was completed shortly after Pilot returned from an extended stay in France. His work took on Impressionist influences after he visited the artists’ colony at Concarneau. The many pastel grey, blue and pink tones of the sky and snow in "Quebec Winter" recall the work of the European Impressionists; however, Pilot has applied these methods to a wintry subject that remains quintessentially Canadian.

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Robert Wakeham Pilot
(1898 - 1967) PRCA

Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, Robert Pilot moved to Montreal in 1910 when his widowed mother married well-known Canadian artist Maurice Cullen. Pilot found he was attracted to the artistic life as he helped his stepfather with chores in the studio and began sketching. He studied figure drawing at the Royal Canadian Academy and learned landscape painting with Cullen. As a student at the Art Association of Montreal, he was recognized as a gifted pupil by instructor William Brymner, who offered instruction to the penniless young artist free of charge on the condition that he would pay the fees when he was able.

After serving overseas in WWI he returned to Montreal and was invited to participate in the first Group of Seven exhibition in 1920. For a time he concentrated on the etching medium, with the desire to develop his own style apart from that of his stepfather. He was given the opportunity to study in Paris with the help of a generous patron and travelled to Paris in 1920. There he studied at the Academie Julian and exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1922. On his return to Canada he was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy. Exhibiting with the RCA gave him more visibility and some of his works were acquired by the National Gallery of Canada. After several successful exhibitions he travelled abroad painting in France, Spain, and North Africa. In addition to oil paintings and etchings he worked in pastel and completed several mural commissions in public buildings. More successful shows followed and he continued to paint, although he served his country once again in WW2. His Canadian impressionist painting style was shaped by his years in France, the influence of his stepfather, Maurice Cullen, and the work of J. W. Morrice, whom he greatly admired. He was elected president of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1952. Pilot died in 1967 and was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1969.