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Walter Phillips
(England, 1884 - 1963)

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Walter Phillips trained at the Birmingham School of Art, and was a successful watercolour artist in England before he and his wife, Gladys. Together they emigrated to Canada in 1913. In Winnipeg, where the Phillips lived until 1924, Walter was introduced to etching by Cyril Barraud. However, he was not comfortable with this medium and instead became interested in wood engraving. An article in the The Studio by Allen W. Seaby (1919) influenced him and he basically taught himself the technique. By 1923 he had published forty-two colour woodcuts.

In 1924 while visiting England for 10 months with his growing family, Phillips encountered Yoshiburo Urushibara, a Japanese printmaker, who demonstrated Japanese materials and techniques and who Phillips considered to be the most important living print techinician. Clearly Phillips was strongly influenced by the oriental aesthetic but more importantly, Urushibara taught him the method of properly sizing the handmade Japanese paper used in his prints. This instruction allowed him to produce the fine gradations of colour and surface texture in Above Lake Louise.

In 1940, Phillips was asked to be artist in residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts. He moved to Calgary in 1941 where he taught at the provincial Institute of Technology and Art. He died in 1963 leaving a legacy of uniquely Canadian art. Walter J. Phillips is recognised today as a master of the watercolour and the woodblock print medium and his work is eagerly collected. His works are housed in galleries across Canada, including The National Gallery of Canada, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies as well as collections abroad in London, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Japan, and private collections the world over.


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Vista Lake

Late 19th and early 20th century American art with an emphasis on the 1930s since 1977
international fine print dealers association