Albert Henry Robinson
(1881-1956)

Robinson.VillageontheGulf.1947
One of three artists to exhibit in the first Group of Seven exhibition (1920) that did not become a member of the group, Albert Henry Robinson was born in Hamilton but spent much of his life in Montreal. Working as an illustrator at the Hamilton Times magazine, Robinson saved up enough to travel to Paris to study art at the École des Beaux-Arts. At the age of 30 he became the youngest member to ever be elected associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; he eventually held memberships in the Art Association of Montreal and the Canadian Group of Painters of which he was a founding member. Unfortunately, at the age of 52, Robinson suffered a debilitating heart attack and was never able to paint again. The result is that his paintings are rare and highly sought after. In 1955 his work was the subject of a career retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Many important Canadian and European museums have collected his paintings.

During one of many sketching trips he took with his good friend A.Y. Jackson, Robinson produced “Returning from Easter Mass” in 1922, a painting now in the National Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection and considered Robinson’s most important work. In 1943, he worked with A.J. Casson and A.Y. Jackson on the silkscreen version of this work for the Sampson-Matthews wartime art program. In this image, draught horses draw sleighs loaded with villagers of Cacouna, Quebec, as they head home from Easter Mass on a snowy, overcast early spring day. Reflecting Robinson’s deep love of Quebec and its people, this work is also emblematic of Robinson’s focus on winter scenes and pastoral subjects. “Village on the Gulf” (1947) offers another snow-bound image of Quebec. Looking through a sparse stand of birch trees, which cast crisp blue shadows on fresh mounds of powder snow, we see a small village clinging to the bank of the St. Lawrence River as ice floes pass by in the distance.