Walter Joseph (W.J.) Phillips - The Bather

  • The Bather
  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 8.75 x 9.75 in
  • 1927
  • Sold
  • Loch Gallery, Calgary

Walter Joseph Phillips: Renowned Artist and Printmaker Walter Joseph Phillips, born on October 25, 1884, in Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, England, was a prominent artist known for his watercolours and pioneering work in colour woodcut printmaking. His father, Reverend John Phillips, was an itinerant Wesleyan Methodist Minister from North Wales, and his mother, Sophia Blackett, hailed from Leeds.

Phillips showed an early talent for drawing, though his father hoped he would pursue ministry. Encouraged by his mother, he attended evening classes at the Municipal School of Art and Science in Burton-on-Trent. Later, he won a scholarship to the Municipal School of Art in Birmingham and received further instruction at the Municipal School of Art and Science in Great Yarmouth.

In 1902, Phillips moved to South Africa, where he worked various jobs for five years, hoping to save money for further artistic training in Paris. Returning to England in 1907, he worked as a commercial artist in Manchester and London. In 1908, he became the Art Master at the Bishop's School in Salisbury, where he met and married Gladys Pitcher in 1910.

In 1913, Walter and Gladys Phillips emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, seeking new opportunities. Phillips began teaching at a secondary school and discovered new inspiration in the Winnipeg suburbs and Lake of the Woods. He connected with local artists, like Cyril Barraud, and held joint exhibitions, marking the beginning of his prolific career in Canada.

Phillips took up etching in 1915, producing thirty etchings within two years, earning recognition from the National Gallery of Canada. By 1917, he transitioned to color woodcuts, a medium in which he excelled and eventually abandoned etching.

Phillips continued teaching and creating art in Winnipeg, with summers spent at Lake of the Woods. His work gained attention, leading to correspondence with artists in England and exhibitions. In 1926, he published "The Technique of the Color Woodcut" and began writing a weekly art column for the Winnipeg Tribune.

Phillips' first trip to the Rocky Mountains in 1926 profoundly influenced his work. Over the next 15 years, he frequently returned to the Rockies, and his art prominently featured mountain landscapes. He also visited the West Coast of British Columbia, further diversifying his subjects.

In 1940, Phillips began teaching at the Banff Summer School and later at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary. He moved to Calgary in 1941, allowing him closer access to the mountains. Post-World War II, he built a home in Banff, where his watercolor technique reached new heights. Despite vision problems in the 1950s, Phillips continued creating art until 1952. In 1960, he moved to Victoria, where he eventually became blind. Walter Joseph Phillips passed away on July 5, 1963, in Victoria, leaving a lasting legacy as a master printmaker and watercolorist.

Walter Phillips's works are housed in collections 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 his work was gifted to the city of Winnipeg. Now permanently housed in the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park, the Crabb collection is available for public viewing year round.

More Artwork from this Artist

  • Swans

  • Wood Engraving on Paper
  • 3.5 x 3.7 in
  • 1932
  • Price available on request
  • Deep Cove

  • Watercolour on Paper
  • 14 x 21 in
  • 1957
  • Price available on request
  • The Source of the Bow

  • Wood Engraving on Paper
  • 6.4 x 4.1 in
  • 1936
  • Price available on request
  • Bredon Village

  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 10.43 x 12.44 in
  • 1928
  • Price available on request
  • Above Lake Louise

  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 7.44 x 6.22 in
  • 1945
  • Price available on request
  • A Gloucester Village

  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 8.5 x 9.8 in
  • 1926
  • Price available on request
  • Morning

  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 7.08 x 7.6 in
  • 1924
  • Price available on request
  • Norman Bay, Lake of the Woods

  • Woodcut on Paper
  • 11.49 x 8.38 in
  • 1920
  • Price available on request

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