Harold Beament
(1909 – 2001)

Ottawa-born painter Harold Beament enlisted in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve in 1917 but by 1924, after a stint in law school as well as time at the Ontario College of Art, he was working as a full-time artist. He enlisted again during World War II and by 1943 had achieved the divergent designations of Senior Naval War Artist and Commander of ships such as the Bangor-class minesweeper Vegreville. After retiring from active service in 1947, Beament remained on the reserve list until the early 1970s. He became a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1947 and served as its president from 1964 to 1967. After WWII, he traveled with Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson to study the landscape and peoples of the Arctic; during these trips he produced his best work and helped to introduce “Southern” Canadians to Inuit life and some of the most remote landscapes in Canada; in 1955 he designed a stamp for Canada Post with Inuit figures. He settled in Montreal where he taught at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Even in his images of people of the north, the sea is almost always present as a dominant feature, and this is true in both works he did for Sampson-Matthews. During his time in the north, he lived with Inuit families and is widely considered one of the first Canadian artists to do so. In “Departure for the Hunt” (1948), a warm morning light creates an atmosphere of optimism as Inuit hunters carry their kayaks to the water’s edge and depart on a hunting expedition. In “The Waiting Ones” (1948), members of perhaps the same Inuit family stand in anticipation on a cold, rocky ledge, peering out over a frozen bay as they await the return of a hunting party.