Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreens

Summer Morning | A.J. Casson

Summer Morning | A.J. Casson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. silkscreen, circa 1947-53

Size: 30 x 40 inches.
Price: $1,600


Details: Signed in print lower right. New frame: 34 X 44 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ontario.
Condition: Image Excellent. Staple marks around edges covered by frame.

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Algonquin Provincial Park | A.J. Casson

Algonquin Provincial Park | A.J. Casson

Canadian Pacific Serigraph, circa 1954

Size: 24 x 30 inches.
Price: $1,200 


Details: Signed in print lower right. Original frame: 27.5 X 33.5 inches. Stamp of the Canadian Pacific Public Relations Office on verso.
Note: This serigraph was produced by Sampson-Matthews Ltd. for Canadian Pacific, but is not part of the Sampson-Matthews catalogue of silkscreens. The painting on which this serigraph was based is in the collection of Via Rail Canada.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ontario.
Condition: Very good.

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Junction of the Peace and Smoky Rivers | AY Jackson

Junction of the Peace and Smoky Rivers | AY Jackson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1953-57

Size: 30" x 40"
Price: $1,200


Details: Signed in print lower right. The words "Supervised by A.J. Casson" is written in ink above A.Y. Jackson's name. Sampson-Matthews label on verso. Unframed.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Excellent.

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River Rapids | A.Y. Jackson

River Rapids | A.Y. Jackson

Silkscreen, circa 1950s.
Size: 15 x 20 inches.
Price: $850

Details: Rare silkscreen. Signed in pencil "A.Y. Jackson" in margin beneath. Believed to be printed in very limited quantities by Sampson-Matthews Ltd., but not part of S-M project.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ontario.
Condition: Good.

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Smart River | A.Y. Jackson

Smart River | A.Y. Jackson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1945-48

Size: 20 x 27 inches.
Price: $1,000


Details: Signed in print lower left. Framed behind anti-glare glass: 28 X 35 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Silkscreen in excellent condition; silkscreen glued to mat by previous owner along edges.

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Beech Woods | Fred Haines

Beech Woods | Fred Haines

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1943

Size: 30" x 40"
Price: SOLD


Details: Signed in print lower right. Title and name printed along bottom edge; marked "Issued by National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa" along bottom edge. Sampson-Matthews label on verso. Can be purchased framed or unframed.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Excellent. Some wear around bottom edge; two small "cracks" on edge of image.

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Ice Cutting | Sarah M. Robertson

Ice Cutting | Sarah M. Robertson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1947-53

Size: 21 x 25 inches.
Price: SOLD


Details: Signed in print lower right. Signed "Supervised by A.J. Casson" above artist name. "Issued by National Gallery of Canada" and "No. 71 Ice Cutting" printed on bottom border.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ontario.
Condition: Excellent.

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Algoma Country | Lawren Harris

Algoma Country | Lawren Harris

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, 1945

Size: 30" x 40"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower right. The words " Painted by Lawren Harris, L.L.D" and "Issued by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa" and "No. 38 Algoma Country" printed in margin beneath image. Unframed.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Excellent

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Maple and Birch | A.Y. Jackson

Maple and Birch | A.Y. Jackson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1950.

Size: 30" x 40"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower right. The words "Supervised by A.J. Casson" is written in ink above A.Y. Jackson's name. Sampson-Matthews label on verso. Unframed.
Note: This silkscreen is based on an original painting in the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Excellent; one small imperfection.

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Dease Bay | A.Y. Jackson

Dease Bay | A.Y. Jackson

Dease Bay, Great Bear Lake
Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1947-53

Size: 20" x 27"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower middle. "Supervised by A.J. Casson" is written in ink in right-hand bottom corner. Unframed. Silkscreen is based on A.Y. Jackson painting held in a private collection.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Near Mint to Mint. Image excellent, with vibrant colours, no scratches, scuff marks or missing paint.

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Junction of the Peace and Smoky Rivers | A.Y. Jackson

Junction of the Peace and Smoky Rivers | A.Y. Jackson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1953-57

Size: 30" x 40"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower right. The words "Supervised by A.J. Casson" is written in ink above A.Y. Jackson's name. Sampson-Matthews label on verso. Unframed.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Near Mint to Mint. Image excellent, with vibrant colours, no scratches, scuff marks or missing paint.

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Black Spruce | Thoreau MacDonald

Black Spruce | Thoreau MacDonald

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1950.

Size: 30 x 40 inches.
Price: SOLD.

Details: Initialled in print lower right. Framed: 34 X 44 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ontario.
Condition: Very good.

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Mill at Coboconk | J.E.H. MacDonald

Mill at Coboconk | J.E.H. MacDonald

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1947-53

Size: 20 x 27 inches.
Price: SOLD

Details: Initialled "J.H. '24" lower right in print. Framed: 28 X 35 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Very good.

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Gaspe | Joseph Ernest Sampson

Gaspe | Joseph Ernest Sampson

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1950

Size: 20" x 27"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower left. Wood frame, natural stain. Sampson-Matthews Ltd. label on verso.
Overall measurements: 23 X 30 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Very good, with some fading (blues tones not as strong as other copies).

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Snow Storm |Thoreau MacDonald

Snow Storm |Thoreau MacDonald

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, 1947

Size: 20" x 27"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower right. Signed faintly "Thoreau MacDonald" in lower left. Framed.
Overall dimensions, 21" X 28"
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Very Good, with modest fading.

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The Ferry, Quebec | J.W. Morrice

The Ferry, Quebec | J.W. Morrice

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1943.

Size: 20 x 27 inches.
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed "J.W. Morrice" lower left in print. Framed: 22 X 29 inches.
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Very good.

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Silver Stream | L.A.C. Panton

Silver Stream | L.A.C. Panton

Sampson-Matthews Ltd. Silkscreen, circa 1944

Size: 20" x 27"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed in print lower right. Unframed. Sampson-Matthews Ltd. label on verso.
Written in margin beneath print: "Silver Stream, L.A.C. Panton, R.C.A." and "Issued by the National Gallery of Canada."
Provenance: Private Collection.
Condition: Very Good to Excellent.

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Isles of Spruce | Arthur Lismer

Isles of Spruce | Arthur Lismer

Size: 30" X 40"

Price: SOLD

Sampson-Matthews Silkscreen Print, circa 1943

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Winter Morning | Thoreau MacDonald

Winter Morning | Thoreau MacDonald

Silkscreen
Size: 20" by 27"
Price: SOLD

Details: Silkscreen by Sampson-Matthews Ltd., 1947, Artist Initials on Print. Also signed "Supervised by A.J. Casson."
Framed measures 31.5" by 38.5". Titled, artist name, and Sampson Matthews on metal plate on frame.
Provenance: Private Collection.

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Dozens of handmade silkscreens showcasing
Canadian art were created from 1942 – 1963

The Sampson-Matthews Ltd. silkscreen project is a landmark in Canadian art history.

Between the years 1942 to 1963, dozens of high-quality silkscreens, or serigraph prints, were made by hand by craftsmen at the Sampson-Matthews Ltd. printing company in Toronto, overseen by icons in Canadian art: A.Y. Jackson and A.J. Casson.

To this day, these iconic prints showing distrinctly Canadian landscapes and subjects are highly regarded by art collectors, artists and art historians, for many reasons: their beauty, their craftsmanship, their durability, and their evangelical role in spreading national identity.

These prints, as of 2016, are between 55 and 74 years old, depending on the individual title, and those that have been well cared for still look stunning, with vibrant colours and sometimes momentus scenes.

Canadian Art History

The story of these remarkable silkscreens was fading for years, largely only told by Canadian art historians. More recently, a handsome coffee-table style art book has been published to help revive their story: Art for War and Peace: How a Great Art Project Helped Canada Discover Itself, by Ian Sigvaldason and Scott Steedman.

When the first silkscreen was produced by Sampson-Matthews Ltd., in 1942, the idea was to contribute to the Second World War effort: using art to remind Canadian troops stationed far and wide of their home country, perhaps even remind them of what they were fighting to preserve. The colourful pictures “of home” were meant as morale boosters. But the project also became a boon to Canadian artists of the day.

Group of Seven founding member A.Y. Jackson is given the most credit for pushing the project forward and winning the backing of the National Gallery of Canada. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the silkscreen production expertise of Sampson-Matthews Ltd., which was founded in 1917, and the commitment of co-founder Charles Matthews.

Vibrant Colours

Large, 30- by 40-inch, silkscreens were made of paintings by artists such as Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, while other works were commissioned from prominent and not-so-prominent artists of the day.

The silkscreen process used up to 15 oil-based ink colours, depending on the original painting, meaning real paint was used in their production. Many of the colours were vibrant and bold. The silkscreens were laid over thick paper board, giving them durability for decades.

During the war, from 1942 to 1944, some 25 different silkscreens were made as part of a first series, with artists including A.J. Casson, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Thoreau MacDonald, Fred Haines, Sydney Hallam, Charles Comfort, James Wilson Morrice, Yvonne McKague Housser and others. A.Y. Jackson chose many of the pieces, in consultation with the National Gallery.

Another 11 silkscreens were produced from 1944 to 1945, including some by the same artists, such as Thoreau MacDonald and A.Y. Jackson, and new artists such as Leonard Brooks, Fritz Brandtner and Albert Cloutier.

More than 100 Silkscreens

After the war, the project continued, with another 36 prints created in partnership with the National Gallery. About another 15 were printed after the National Gallery withdrew in 1955, with a few more images printed by the Sampson-Matthews company up until 1963.

In all, about 100 silkscreens were produced in all, though the wartime series holds a more special place in Canadian art history.

These prints are credited with raising the national profile of Canadian art and artists, helping shape the Canadian identity in a wider way and with a wider audience than had been achieved decades earlier by the Group of Seven.

The prints not only found their way into army barracks; they found their way into classrooms, libraries, government buildings, business boardrooms and even homes across Canada.

Some silkscreens bear the words “Supervised by A.Y. Jackson” or, more often, “Supervised by A.J. Casson” above the printed signatures of the artist, though some of Casson signatures were added in the later years of his life. Some collectors seek out silkscreens with the handwritten signatures, believing they add value to the piece.

A.J. Casson worked as Art Director for the Sampson-Matthews company, while artists J.S. Hallam and Joachim Gauthier also worked there. Company partner J.E. Sampson was also an artist and contributed silkscreens to the project.