highlights international perspective

Walter Joseph Phillips, (Canadian, b. England, 1884-1963)

Ten Canadian Colour Prints: Mont Cathedral from Lake O'Hara (British Columbia)

Color woodblock print. With artist's WP monogram at lower right corner. Signed in pencil, WJ Phillips on bottom right margin, and numbered '9' bottom left margin (partially erased). This was the first design presented in the 1927 portfolio, Ten Canadian Colour Prints, published by the artist in an edition of 250.

20.5 by 25 cm

Walter J. Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England but lived in Canada for most of his adult life. After achieving some recognition for his paintings in England, Phillips immigrated to Winnipeg, Canada with his wife in 1913, where he found work teaching art at St. John 's Technical School. By 1915 Phillips had learned etching from a colleague, and the following year, the National Gallery of Canada purchased two of his etchings. In 1917, Phillips began to experiment with color woodblocks while at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he was teaching. Two years later his woodblock prints were discussed and reproduced in the International Studio magazine. He returned to England in 1924 where he met other British artists working with woodblock prints, and took lessons from Urushibara Yoshijirô (Mokuchû, 1888-1953), a friend of John Platt (cat. nos. 29-31).

Phillips was remarkably prolific; by 1923 he had published forty-two color woodblock prints. In 1925 he returned to Canada and continued his prodigious production, including four portfolios in less than ten years. His work was so highly regarded he was even able to support himself on the sale of his paintings and prints during the Great Depression. This print is the first design from his first portfolio, Ten Canadian Colour Prints. It featured an introduction by the poet Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947), and an essay by Phillips, The Woodblock Colour Print, which describes his printing process. In the text accompanying this image, Phillips described his attempt to capture his momentary glimpse of the mountain:

"I saw the towering blue mass of Cathedral Mountain against a citrine sky through which the sun had lately passed, from the stoop of the C.P.R. chalet at dinner-time. My paints were a mile away. The effect was momentary. The colour quickly lost its purity. It was the most memorable event during a three week's stay in the vicinity. I had to paint it afterwards, and now I have made a print of it."

Reference:
Chazen Museum of Art, Color Woodcut International, 2006, p. 37

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site last updated
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Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
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