Stanley Cosgrove, self-portrait, 1936
Painter, muralist, draughtsman, Stanley Morel Cosgrove was born in Montreal in 1911. He studied art at the Ecole des beaux-arts of Montreal from 1928 to 1935 and afterwards in 1936 at the Art Association of Montreal where he took figure painting under Edwin Holgate. He enjoyed the rare honour of being invited to exhibit, while still a student, at the Provincial Museum of Quebec in 1939. About this time he was following the work of French painters like Braque and Rouault. He received a scholarship from the Province of Quebec in the earlier part of the year and had the intention of studying in France for four years but the outbreak of the Second World War changed his plans. He was allowed to study on the American continent and he choose New York. He arrived there with his wife but after two months found it unsatisfactory and finally went to Mexico. There he studied at the Academia Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico City in 1940 and became interested in fresco painting and approached Jose Clemente Orozco. Orozco who had just begun a fresco for the Hospital Jesus de Nazareno in the art of Mexico City agreed to let him help with some parts of the work. It was from working with Orozco in Mexico City that Cosgrove felt a new assurance and directness not experienced in his previous work in 1942-43. In 1953 Cosgrove was awarded a Governement fellowship to study in France. He was active about 1953 in the field of textile designing , working with a group of artists which included Paul-Émile Borduas and F.C.A. Sullivan. He had also worked for wider interest in modern fresco painting in Canada, particularly in churches, and he conducted classes in this medium at the Ecole des beaux-arts. He completed a fresco for the entrance of the philosophy and science wing of the College de Saint Laurent near Montreal. He taught at the Ecole des beaux-arts from 1944 to 1958 and at Queen’s University in Kingston in Ontario in 1952.
During his four years in Mexico he also did still lifes, using colours, sometimes with distorted forms and sometimes more representational, showing traces of Braque. Some of his portraits had the characteristic outlines, particularly in the face, of work by Rouault proving highly effective.
In Mexico, on the fresco itself, Cosgrove was allowed to apply flat colours on the background and sketch in the principal points like head, hands and feet, enlarging from Orosco’s original sketch.
He is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Hart House, University of Toronto; the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada. He was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters, Royal Canadian Academy (ARCA 1951).
Source: Colin S. MacDonald, A dictionnary of Canadian artists, Volume 1, A-F, Canadian paperbacks, 1977 and Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada of Canada, Canadian Art, volume one / A-F,Ottawa, 1988