Modern Colours: The Art of Randolph Stanley Hewton, 1888-1960


56 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-919153-72-0
DDC 759.11




Reviewed by Kathy E. Zimon

Kathy E. Zimon is a fine arts librarian (emerita) at the University of
Calgary. She is the author of Alberta Society of Artists: The First 70
Years and coeditor of Art Documentation Bulletin of the Art Libraries
Society of North America.


Randolph Stanley Hewton’s place in 20th-century Canadian painting is
secure enough to merit a mention in survey texts on Canadian art history
and an entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia, but it is fair to say that he
is unknown to the general public, in spite of links to the Group of
Seven via the friendship and influence of A.Y. Jackson, and the
impressionism that characterized his early work in Montreal.

This exhibition catalogue, which focuses on Hewton’s work from 1910
to the 1940s, suggests some causes for this undeserved relative
obscurity. Upon his return to Montreal in 1913 after fruitful studies in
Paris and travel in Europe, Hewton’s budding artistic career was
interrupted by World War I. He resumed exhibiting after the war and
replaced the retiring William Brymner as director of the Art Association
of Montreal’s art school, a period that was his most productive
artistically, as evidenced by the modernist portraits reproduced here.
However, that rewarding employment ceased with the opening in 1923 of
the new Йcole des Beaux Arts in Montreal, which depleted enrolment at
the AAM. In 1925 Hewton was appointed president of a business, and his
artistic pursuits necessarily became part-time. He moved with the
company to Ontario in 1933, and his original associations with painting
in Montreal were replaced by joining the Toronto-based Canadian Group of
Painters, although he never became an active member. Hewton did not
abandon painting, but full-time business interests reduced his output as
an artist, and his work, which had begun to integrate the figure in a
recognizably Canadian landscape, began to concentrate on portraits of
society women and nudes, a focus that automatically placed him in the
minority among Canadian artists.

Forty-two years after his death, curator Victoria Baker’s
reassessment of Hewton’s work in the artistic context of the interwar
years is long overdue. At only 56 pages, but with 14 full-page
reproductions (half of them in colour), this catalogue is by far the
most substantial publication on Hewton to date, and should be in all
serious collections on Canadian art.


Baker, Victoria A., “Modern Colours: The Art of Randolph Stanley Hewton, 1888-1960,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,