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Edwin Holgate

Professor of Mathematics
(Albert Henry Steward Gillson)


Edwin Holgate
Allandale, Ontario, 1892 – Montreal 1977


Professor of Mathematics
(Albert Henry Steward Gillson)




Oil on canvas


55.2 x 46 cm


Gift of Ruth Gillson Byres on behalf of the Gillson family, inv. 2004.90


Quebec and Canadian Art

In 1923, back from Paris, Edwin Holgate set up a studio in a building belonging to the sculptor Alfred Laliberté on Sainte-Famille Street, a hotbed of artists, where he came into contact with the French-speaking art and literary scene. It was here that he painted the portrait of Albert Henry Steward Gillson, which the critic Jean Chauvin would reproduce in Ateliers (1928). Chauvin then wrote that Holgate’s portraits “were really psychological portraits (one must mention, among the most comprehensive, that of the Professor of Pure Mathematics).” Holgate lends his model a sculptural presence in the way he delineates his features, the volumes of his clothing and his silhouette against the painting’s ground. Gillson would commission several other portraits of himself and family members in the 1920s and 1930s, especially from Lilias Torrance Newton. A member of the Art Association’s Council in 1939-1940, and chairman of the acquisition committee for modern art, he would organize an exhibition dedicated to Torrance Newton that would facilitate the institution’s purchase of her portrait of his wife.

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