Biography of Albert Henry ROBINSON



Born in Hamilton, Ontario, 1881, Albert Robinson worked as an illustrator for the Hamilton Times, 1901-1903, while studying under John S. Gordon. He earned enough money from illustrating to go to Paris in 1903, where he studied at the Académie Julian under William Bouguereau and at the École des beaux-arts. For two summers, 1904-05, he travelled and painted in Normandy. Back in Hamilton in 1905, he began teaching at the Hamilton Art School. He also began painting Canadian landscapes in oil in 1907. Then, he moved to Montreal in 1908, where he met William Brymner and Maurice Cullen. He painted Montreal harbour scenes and Quebec landscapes.

He met A.Y. Jackson in 1910 and the two artists went to France to paint in 1911, where Robinson sketched in Brittany, and later in England.

He stopped his painting to work in munitions factory at Longue-Pointe, Quebec, between 1914 and 1918. Then he worked briefly for Canadian War Memorials, painting wartime shipbuilding.

After 1918, he began painting rural Quebec on sketching trips with A.Y. Jackson to St-Tite-des-Caps, Baie-St-Paul, Cacouna, Quebec City, and the Laurentians. He also painted with Clarence Gagnon and Edwin Holgate.

Robinson stopped painting more than a decade before his death in 1956 in Montreal.



Although he was born in Hamilton, Ontario, virtually every painting of Robinson’s maturity depicts the rural landscape of his adopted province. His vision of Quebec is an idyllic one, rarely suggesting the harsh realities of life in isolated villages in winter, as portrayed in Gagnon’s classic illustrations for Maria Chapdelaine (1919). Robinson’s villages are caught in a prism of chaste snow banks and pristine snowflakes, and together his canvases present a unifying and convincing, if idealized, world, born of the artist’s deep affection for the Quebec countryside and its inhabitants.



Robinson’s personal vision and technique joined a high-keyed palette with his characteristic crisp, square-edged brushstrokes. Il was for him a spontaneous and lifelong method of painting, barely modified from his earliest Impressionist studies done in France almost a decade before.



Robinson exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy from 1909 to 1933. He was invited to a show with the Group of Seven as a guest exhibitor.



He was elected an Associate of the Academy in 1911 and a full member in 1920.



The French government in 1932 bought his painting The Open Stream.


Source: Paul Duval, Canadian Impressionism, McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1990

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