North Shore Historic Art


Robert Ford Gagen RCA OSA (1847-1926)

Robert Gagen was born in London, England and came to Canada with his parents in 1862. The family settled in Seaforth, Ontario which is where senior artist William Cresswell R.A. (1818-1888) had also chosen to emigrate to. Shortly after arriving, Gagen began to study under Cresswell. Cresswell also provided the young artist with materials, which were difficult to come by in the area at the time. Upon Cresswell’s advice, Gagen sent his paintings to provincial exhibitions, where he was awarded various prizes. Later, he moved to Toronto and studied under G. Gilbert, followed by employment at Notman and Fraser – the famed photography and design studio – where he received direct instruction from noted artist John A. Fraser. He spent nine years with the firm painting watercolours on a photographic base. At the same time, he also learned landscape painting from Fraser and became an artist of note. In 1934, A.H. Robson wrote that his best work were his seascapes. He was a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1872 and later became the society’s permanent secretary. He became an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy at its founding in 1888 and was elected a full member in 1915. He was a member of the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto and served as Commissioner of Fine Arts for the Canadian National Exhibition from 1912-1926. He was awarded honourable mention at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. The National Gallery of Canada has several of his paintings in their permanent collection.  

 

Bay of Fundy Coastline

Ref. Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

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