Roland Gissing, 1895-1967

Glacier National Park | Roland Gissing

Glacier National Park | Roland Gissing

Glacier National Park
Oil on Board
Size: 11.5" x 15.5"
Price: SOLD

Details: Oil painting on board. Signed Lower Right. Titled Glacier National Park on verso.
Provenance: Private Collection

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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Roland Gissing is Alberta’s best known historical artist,
and probably deserves a higher profile in Canadian art

Biography
Roland Gissing was born into a literary family in England – his father and uncle were novelists – but he received art instruction in Edinburgh.

Seeing movies about the American Wild West kindled Roland Gissing’s desire to move in 1913 at age 18 to Canada, where he was hired as a cowhand in Calgary. For the next 10 years, he rode the range in Alberta, Montana, Nebraska and Arizona.

He returned to Alberta where he settled near Cochrane, at the junction of the Ghost and Bow Rivers – a landscape that figures prominently in Roland Gissing’s paintings.

Although Roland Gissing had sketched while working as a cowboy – scenes of cowboy life, including riding the range and bronco riding – he had little art training. It would stay that way, with the artist being almost entirely self-taught.

Encouraged to Paint

He was encouraged to pursue art by Captain Malcolm Mortimer, as well as prominent Canadian artist C.W. Jefferys, who was a guest at Mortimer’s ranch.

Roland Gissing continued to paint, having his first show at a Calgary gallery in 1929. The show was a success and he soon opened a studio in Calgary.

In 1931, Roland Gissing returned to Cochane where he married and continued to paint.

The artist had a setback in 1944, when his home and studio burned to the ground. Roland Gissing rebuilt and resumed his paintings, both in watercolour and in oil. He also worked, mainly earlier in his career, in pastel.

The painter was known to travel into the nearby mountains by foot, horse or car and sketch. He has been called The People’s Painter for being down-to-earth and for recording the life and landscape of early Alberta.

Alberta’s Blue Mountains

Roland Gissing’s best known works feature the so-called Blue Mountains of Alberta, as well as the Bow and Ghost Rivers near where he lived. Some of the works have a panoramic quality to them, showing mountains towering over valleys and rivers. His colour palette included rich blues, greens and golds.

Others subject matters include wheat fields, harvests, ranches, Alberta’s Badlands, and oil rigs, which began to pop up in Alberta. There are even a few seascapes.

Roland Gissing became an associate member of the Alberta Society of Artists when it was first formed in 1930 and full member in 1947.

Roland Gissing’s paintings are easiest to find in Alberta, but his popularity spread across Canada and abroad. He has, perhaps unfairly, been labelled as an Alberta artist, shortchanging him when compared to other Canadian landscape artists.

It’s known that his paintings are held by the British Royal Family, Edmonton Museum of Art, Glenbow Museum (Calgary), University of Alberta, Vancouver Art Gallery and other public galleries. Works are also held in numerous corporate and private collections.

The Roland Gissing Estate maintains a website devoted to his legacy and his art.

Sources:

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database.

Roland Gissing Official Website