Artist Henry Robertson “Robin” Watt, is shown with his portrait of a six-year-old boy at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in April 1955. The painting was voted the favourite in the museum’s spring exhibition by 500 visitors to the exhibition.
Not everyone is a fan of modern art — now or back in 1955, when attendees voted on their favourite work in the spring exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.The results of the vote were announced on April 28 of that year. What our article described as “Montreal’s favourite painting” was revealed to be Henry Robertson “Robin” Watt’s traditional-looking portrait of a six-year-old boy. Watt was shown with his painting in the photograph above, published in the Montreal Gazette the following day.Count our reporter among those not all that impressed by some parts of the museum’s collection, which then included works by French artists Cézanne and Matisse, along with the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson.“Among the garish abstracts and the woodsy Canadascapes in the Spring Exhibition of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a quiet portrait of a six-year-old boy in a soft wool jersey,” our reporter wrote. “Something about the picture of Robin Watt’s mature artistry attracts the average gallery-goer.”It was a “sharp contrast” to the official winner of the $150 Jessie Dow prize, he reported: Quebec artist Jori Smith, for her work Still Life With Green Apples.Robin Watt was a well-known portraitist who was born in Victoria, B.C., and trained as an artist in London, England. He eventually moved to Montreal and died in Cowansville on Sept. 11, 1964. His reputation was such that his obituary appeared the New York Times under the headline “Henry R. Watt, 67, a Canadian artist.”Related