CANADIAN PRAIRIE WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES

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WALTER PHILLIPS. Cottage, c. 1930. John Crabb collection

WALTER JOSEPH PHILLIPS, b. 1884 Barton on Humber, England, migrated to Winnipeg, 1913, moved to Calgary, 1941 and on to Canmore, d. Victoria, 1963. Phillips studied art in England and shortly after taking up residence in Canada took up printmaking. His beautiful colour woodcuts in the Japanese manner earned him an international reputation. He was also one of Canada's most accomplished painters in watercolour, becoming famous in his latter years for his mountain subjects. He worked in the English manner, sketching from nature in watercolour and in the studio expanding those sketches into exhibition watercolours. His larger works sometimes appear over-generalized, as though detail appropriate to the scale had been lost in the transition from sketch to finished work, but his smaller works are exceptional -- some of the finest watercolour landscapes painted by a Canadian -- and his colour, generally, is exceptional as well. His work demonstrates a strong sense of design, but one senses that it was owes more to Cotman and Japanese prints than to modernist painting.


TERRY FENTON