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Hider Page 8e.5

Great Canadian Art & Artists

The Historical Art of Art Hider

Arthur Henry Hider (1870-1952) - 5

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The Quebec Tercentenary - JD Kelly, AH Hider - 1908
Orig. chromolithograph - Size - 37 x 74 cm
Found - Bond Head, ON

In 1908 Art painted the military parade on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Quebec and Canada.

Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in black top hat, is talking to Lord Strathcona.

Taking the salute is the Prince of Wales, who will become George V three years later in 1911.

Art worked on this painting with his equally famed contemporary, JD Kelly, with Art doing the honours on the horses, his specialty, and JD doing the rest.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Canadians at the Coronation - Art Hider 1911
Orig. chromolithograph - Size - 37 x 74 cm
Found - Barrie, ON

A fabulous historical tapestry which Art painted in 1911, featuring the Canadians in the Coronation Parade of King George V, with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police contingent passing the carriage of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, in his last year in office.

Behind him is the full-bearded Lord Strathcona. The picture, below, was preserved as a memento of a highlight of his life, by a Mountie who was in the parade on that day. 

 

 

 

 

The picture right, and its accompanying martingale, were prized possessions, of a Mountie who rode in the parade that day, till the day he died.

Likewise Arts glorious history chromolithographs hang in countless homes, a century after he painted them, because they remind Canadians of the country they want to be...


Historical Paintings:
Art Hider's most enduring legacy will probably be his works commemorating the celebrated events in Canada's history.

For countless generations of Canadian schoolchildren, Art Hider's pictures encapsulated the romance of Canadian History, and remained favourite images they remembered long into the twilight of old age. But few ever knew that the man who painted these memorable pictures was Art Henry Hider, one of Canada's true Master Painters.

Above, the French-Canadian La Verendrye, who was the first white man to explore the American North West - he was in North Dakota in 1738, 60 years before the celebrated "pioneering trek" of Lewis and Clark passed that way. He and his sons were also the first to explore the Canadian West.

The Eye of the Master: The accuracy of natural and historical detail in Art Hider's work is astonishing; from the velvety touch of a lion's nose, to the complexity of a horse's bridle buckles, or the firing mechanism of a musket.

And always there is the superb use of the canvas space; there is always something more to discover, that adds to the story. In all his scenic paintings Art Hider always planned to fill in the three spaces so important to make a painting a masterpiece, or a scenic photograph memorable: foreground, middle ground, background; at Woodbine (top), the close line of horses, the second group, the grandstands; above, the map checker, La Verendrye and the men packing goods ashore; below, the hiker, the dogs, the fort; the squatting Indian, the rider, and the men marching up. Art constantly challenges the eye to dart around the canvas and put the story together.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

General Brock - JD Kelly (AH Hider)
Orig. chromolithograph - Size - 41 x 59 cm
Found - Brampton, ON
Prov - JD Kelly friend collection


Below, a commission featuring Fort Prince of Wales in 1734, at Churchill, MB, which still stands, abandoned in the arctic wilderness. In Art's painting,one can almost hear the panting of the dogs, and the crunch of crusty snow breaking underfoot. The slowly rising vapours in the fort tells you the air is so cold and brittle there is not even a breath of wind.

Left on the morning of Oct. 13, 1812, General Isaac Brock - atop a magnificent "Hider horse" - prances out of Fort George on his way to win undying fame - but an early death - at the Battle of Queenston Heights above the Niagara River.

Top General Montcalm - there's Art's passion for horses, sneaking in again - rallies the French troops before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.

But lest you think this is just any horse, it is not. Art shows his impeccable research by deliberately, and wonderfully, capturing the colour and character of the proud "Canadian horse," a French-Canadian "multi-purpose" breed, originally brought from France by the colonists, and which, for over 300 years was the workhorse, the carriage horse, and the riding horse of French-Canadians.

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Fabulous Partners!

For all his talent as an artist, JD Kelly, left as a young man, knew there were some artists who were better at painting some things than he was - no we don't mean the Group of Seven.

Oh, they were OK, if you needed some sort of a rough impression of a tree, or a slough, you know, where the paint was all mushed up and heaped in swirls... like mildewed pudding at a half-way house.

JD meant serious painting.

And he meant Art Hider left.

AH Hider was one of the Fab Five of Canada's premier historical and illustrative artists, who were painting at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Arthur Heming, CW Jefferys, and Owen Staples..

Art's passion was painting horses, so much so that, around 1900, it was widely accepted that no one in Canada - or anywhere else that mattered - could do it better. Below Art Hider's Montcalm on a unique Canadian breed of horse.

It is a measure of the man, that JD Kelly, a superior painter in his own right - even of horses - would not only acknowledge that Art was a better artist in some areas, but would actually invite him to paint the major horse figures on his contract work!

What other artist would allow another to meddle in his artistic creations? Would Henry Moore allow someone else to jackhammer a hole into one of his rocks without feeling his vision as an artist severely compromised?

Would Joyce Wieland trust someone else to paste a scrap on one of her raggy doilies without worrying herself sick that it wasn't crooked enough, disheveled enough, or - let's admit it - awful enough?

And what chance is there that AY Jackson would ask Alex Colville to paint an approaching train engine racing into the midst of one of his wavy fields? Why the rumble might just topple one of his wobbly barns...

But God made JD Kelly out of finer clay...

On one of his most famous commissions, General Brock, he asked Art Hider to paint the general's horse, Alfred. And what a fabulous prancing steed he is! Even Alfred seems enormously pleased to have been painted by the best in the business...

JD could have asked Art to paint, play mum, and pay him off, and take credit for all the work, without anyone else ever knowing. It's done all the time. Why publicize a competing artist in the eyes of a client? Next time the contract may go to him!

But that also was not JD's style. Instead he asked Art to sign the painting as well. And he asked him to do it again on other commissions like the Quebec Tercentenary.



JD Kelly left and Art Hider; two Great Canadian gentlemen from another age.

And did we mention, they were equally superior painters too...

We will not see their like again...

Luckily they left a fabulous legacy of fine works of art they created all designed for "Keeping Canadians in Touch With Canada."