William Edwin Atkinson OSA, ARCA, CAC was a painter and draftsman. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where, other than for education and travel, he lived his whole life and died. His teachers included Thomas Eakins and William Bouguereau; he even had a brief association with Paul Gauguin [see footnote 1.2]. Most comprehensive Canadian art history books discuss Atkinson, and his works are in numerous Canadian museums.
His mediums included oil, watercolor, ink, graphite and gouache. His subjects were landscapes, villages, street scenes, farms, rivers, beaches, boats, still life, genre and natural atmospheric effects such as dawn, dusk and moonlight. His styles included Tonalism* and Realism. AskART has excellent illustrations of his work.
Atkinson’s art education included studies at the Ontario School of Art, Toronto (1881) under John A. Fraser (see AskART) and Robert Harris (see AskART); the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia (1883 – 1884) under Thomas Eakins (see AskART); the Académie Julian, Paris (1889 – 1890) under William Bouguereau (see AskART) and Gabriel Ferrier (see AskART); and the Académie Delance, Paris (1890) under Paul Delance (see AskART).
In addition to France and the USA, his travels included Holland and Belgium in 1897; and England from 1898 to 1901, in 1907, and from 1911 to 1912 (see footnote 2.2 for additional travel information).
He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1892 – 1907), an Associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (admitted – 1894, resigned – 1914, reinstated – 1918), and a founding member of the Canadian Art Club (1907 – 1915).
He exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists (1882 -1922), the Paris Salon (1890 – 1891); the Toronto Industrial Exhibition [now Canadian National Exhibition] (1891 – 1902); the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1893 – 1923); the spring shows of the Art Association of Montreal [now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts] (1897 – 1926); the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto (1903 – 1925); and the Canadian Art Club (1908 – 1915).
His works were also in the “World’s Columbian Exposition”, Chicago (1893); the “Pan-American Exposition”, Buffalo, New York (1901); and the “Louisiana Purchase Exposition”, St. Louis, Missouri (1904).
Posthumously, his paintings were included in “Canadians in Paris, 1867 – 1914” at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1979).
Atkinson’s works are frequently traded on the Canadian auction market, they are in numerous private collections, and they are in several important public collections.
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network and individual museum websites, there are William Edwin Atkinson works in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Museum London (Ontario), Ottawa Art Gallery (Ontario), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), The Market Gallery (Toronto), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).