Quebec – Horatio Walker

ALTHOUGH hailing from New York and where part of the winter months are even now spent, Horatio Walker has lived so much of the last 20 years on the Island of Orleans that he has come to be regarded by his habitant neighbours as one of them. He comes wth the birds in the early spring, and seldom departs until the winter has set in. He occupies a cottage at St. Petronelle, the point of the island nearest Quebec. He gives himself up to eight months of hard work, caring little for the social side of life, but painting away steadily.

Isham, in his History of American Painting says, “Walker alone found among the habitants of Canada a corner of the new world whose manners and customs were older and simpler by far than anything Barbizon could offer. It is seventeenth and eighteenth-century France uncontaminated by later intellectual or mechanical developments. The families are rooted in the soil, and as the year revolves, they go through the old august labors of plowing, sowing and reaping as simply and naturally as the birds build their nests or the salmon mount the rivers in the spring. When Walker paints this life he gives, like Millet, its large, ample, classic simplicity. His works have the same Virgilian touch of sympathy with the field and forest, but the human interest is not so dominant or profound. There is no intimate personal unity between Walker and his habitants. He likes and sympathizes with them, but after all they are only part of the fauna of his pictures, like the sheep or the great oxen ; what he is painting is the spring ploughing or the winter wood cutting.”

Walker has been likened to Millet in choice of subject, and in handling to Troyon, and this in a spirit of compliment, but in many particulars Walker is greater than either of the French masters “as befits a man of a later generation.” He has gone them one better—that is to say “his coloring is more varied, more subtle, and usually with more of blue and less of brown in the shadows, and his handling is usually looser, more free, but not less sure.”

Walker’s output is never large and his paintings now command large prices both in the United States and Europe. As much as $12.00 has been paid for a single canvas.