Montreal - The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is organizing a major restrospective exhibition devoted to Edwin Holgate (1892-1977), a central figure in Montreal's art community and in the history of Canadian art. Edwin Holgate will run from May 26 to October 23, 2005, and will feature an impressive selection of 145 works, brought together for the first time since the artist's death. They will include paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints, book illustrations and archival photographs. After Montreal, the exhibition will travel to four Canadian museums: the Glenbow Museum, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the National Gallery of Art and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
Although best known for his portraits and studies of the nude figure, Holgate was also admired for his Quebec landscapes: the Laurentians, the Charlevoix area and the remote fishing villages bordering Labrador. In addition, he was a master of wood engraving. The exhibition will explore the different aspects of this versatile artist's production: the early works from his Montreal and Paris training; portraits of his Montreal circle of friends and family; paintings and prints from his trip to the Skeena River, B.C., in 1926; his work as a war artist in both World Wars. It will also explore his position in Canadian art as the eighth member of the Group of Seven.
The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction, Volume II: G-L has the following entry for Edwin Holgate:
HOLGATE, Edwin Headley RCA, CGP, CSGA (1892-1977). Born in Allandale, Ontario, Holgate studied under William Brymner and Alberta Cleland at the Art Association of Montreal (c.1904-07); summers under Maurice Cullen (1910); under Claudio Castelucho, Lucien Simon, René Ménard at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris (1912-14); Académie Julian, Paris (1912, 1921-22); and under Adolphe Milman at Colarossi, Paris (1920-22). He also travelled and painted in Jamaica (1895), Ukraine (1914), Italy, along the Skeena River in British Columbia where he sketched totem poles (1926), and Labrador (1932). He settled in Montreal and environs in 1915 until his death. Working in oil, watercolour, pastel, chalk, charcoal and pencil, he painted landscapes, Quebec rural farming scenes, streetscapes, portraits, and figures especially working people. He is particularly known for his nudes in the 1930s. He also worked in silkscreen and engraved woodcuts, some of which were used to illustrate books such as Other Days Other Ways by Georges Bouchard (1928) and Metropolitan Museum by Robert Choquette (1931). He signed his work with his initials. He was a member of the Group of Seven between 1931-33 and a founding member of the Beaver Hall Hill Group. Holgate taught wood engraving at l’École des Beaux-Arts, Montreal (1922-34) and at the Art Association of Montreal (1934-40). He served as a war artist with the Canadian Air Force in Canada and England (1943-44). He exhibited at the AAM 1912-1923, 1934, 1938, 1943, 1967, RCA 1915-1955, and held solo exhibitions at the Montreal Arts Club in 1922 and 1931, the AAM in 1933, the MQ in 1944, and the NGC in 1975. His work is in the collections of the AGH, AGO, BAGF, MCMC, MMFA and NGC.