This site is dedicated to the work of Walter J. Phillips, a great Canadian watercolour painter and printmaker. Within a few years of his arrival in Canada, his work drew the attention of public galleries and collectors.
The work was not revolutionary and was never intended to create a revolution. In an age when artists have come to be valued in accordance with their espousal of the modernist paradigm, the traditional qualities that Phillips staunchly maintained have often been undermined by Canada’s art establishment. Yet Phillips’ reputation does not rest on his traditional practice, but on the fact that he was sensitive to his environment and celebrated it in his work. After World War I, when an Eastern Canadian view of the landscape (largely derived from Scandinavian artists) imposed itself on all of Canada, Phillips continued to apply his consummate craftsmanship to a gentle and poetic vision of nature that never ceased to inspire him. As a result, he has remained one of the most accessible of Canadian artists. He and his work exemplified the British influence which prevailed in Western Canada for so long: a reflection of the people and the society of the time.
Walter Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1884. Trained at the Birmingham School of Art, he was a successful watercolour artist in England before he and his wife, Gladys, emigrated to Winnipeg in 1913. Although watercolour remained his primary medium, the wood block print was an enduring interest which brought his work to a wider audience. Among W.J. Phillips’ best-known and loved images in watercolour and woodblock print are those which depict family holidays on Lake of the Woods from the teens until 1925.
In 1940 Walter 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.
About This Site
Submit to the Catalogue
If you have a work by Walter J. Phillips which you would like to see included in the official catalogue raisonne you may contact [email protected]
Where to see works by Walter J. Phillips
W.J. Phillips’ 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. The most extensive private collection of work by Phillips was gifted to the city of Winnipeg. Permanently housed in the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park, the Crabb collection is available for public viewing year round.