J.W. Beatty, RCA, 1869-1941

Winter Landscape | J.W. Beatty

Winter Landscape | J.W. Beatty

Oil on Board
8.5 x 10.5 inches
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed lower right. Framed.
Provenance: Private Collection

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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J.W. Beatty is equally acclaimed as a great Canadian painter,
and for influencing and teaching a generation of famous artists.



Born in Toronto, John William Beatty had an early desire to become a professional painter.

His father was a sign and house painter, and J.W. Beatty himself earned his journeyman’s papers in the trade in 1885. He worked almost a decade worked as a house painter, before deciding to join the newly-formed Toronto Fire Department in 1899.

J.W. Beatty spent his spare time at the fire station painting still lifes and portraits of his fellow firefighters. Later he received formal instruction from professional artists.

After a successful solo show in 1900, J.W. Beatty applied for six months’ leave to study abroad but his request was turned down so he resigned. By then, he had saved enough money to make the trip.  J.W. Beatty sailed for Paris with his wife, Caroline, and studied at the Académie Julian under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant.

Studied in Paris

J.W. Beatty returned to Toronto and in 1901 opened a studio and taught at the Ontario School of Art and Design.

J.W. Beatty returned to Europe and revisited: Paris (painted at the Colarossi and Julian academies); London where he studied with E. Borough Johnson; took sojourns in Holland, Belgium, Italy and Spain (1906-09). J.W. Beatty became greatly influenced by the French landscape painters known as the Barbizons.

Returning to Toronto in 1909, J.W. Beatty taught private classes and continued with his painting. His early landscapes were grey and sombre, characteristic of French and Dutch painting of the traditional school.

Painted Northern Ontario

But J.W. Beatty was a pioneer of the Toronto artists in travelling to Northern Ontario and sketching by canoe by 1912. He began teaching at the Ontario College of Art the same year.

Many of J.W. Beatty’s landscapes had large skies, such as The Evening Cloud of the Northland (1910) or his Between Showers (1913), others about the beauty of the woods like his Morning, Algonquin Park (1914) — all three in the National Gallery of Canada.

J.W. Beatty’s Canadian landscapes painted just prior to and during the First World War are considered his best work.

J.W. Beatty was a friend of Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson, who had studio space in the same building as Beatty. With A.Y. Jackson, J.W. Beatty was awarded a commission by Canadian Northern Railway to paint scenes in and around construction camps during the laying of tracks through the Rocky Mountains.

Friend of Tom Thomson

Just before J.W. Beatty’s entry into the Army he did the stonework for the cairn erected to the memory of Tom Thomson in the fall of 1917.

The same year, J.W. Beatty was appointed official war artist for the Canadian War Memorials, with the hon­orary rank of captain (See blog post). Leaving behind his teaching job at the Ontario College of Art he sailed for the United Kingdom. J.W. Beatty painted portraits, army camps, and scenes near the front.

After his return to Canada, J.W. Beatty continued to teach at the Ontario College of Art until his death in 1941 in Toronto

Although he was a good friend of several members of the Group of Seven, J.W. Beatty had no desire to be part of the Group and remained more within the bounds of tra­ditional painting, achieving equally stunning results with the same subject matter. Like the Group, J.W. Beatty sketched on small wooden panels or boards.

Taught Many Artists

J.W. Beatty’s work is represented in numerous prestigious collections, including that National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Toronto Hart House, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian War Museum, and elsewhere.

During his long career, J.W. Beatty was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists, Royal Canadian Academy, and the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

During his long teaching career, J.W. Beatty taught and influenced an impressive list of Canadian artists who went on to stellar careers.

The list includes:

Source:  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.