Glenbow Museum's holding of nineteenth century art is strong in works on paper featuring topographical and illustrative images, which were created by itinerant artists. They were not professional artists but explorers, engineers, surveyors, and military officers documenting the opening up of the West. Another significant part of the art collection relates to the exploration of the Arctic.
Glenbow also has a large body of works by artists, most members of the newly created Royal Canadian Academy, whose trips to the West were promoted and sponsored by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Large oil paintings by these artists were typically done in Ontario, based directly on sketches, photographs, and watercolours executed on western trips. Over the years, through purchase and donation, Glenbow has acquired many important works of art by artists from eastern Canada and the United States.
Frances Anne Hopkins
Canoes in a Fog, Lake Superior, 1869
oil on canvas
Glenbow Museum Collection; Purchased, 1955
Although it was exceptional for a woman of her time, Hopkins often accompanied her husband, a senior official with the Hudson's Bay Company, on trips along the fur trade routes. Voyageurs (men who travel by canoe) transported beaver pelts in large birch bark canoes. In the nearest one, the artist, holding a sketchpad, can be seen beside her husband. Hopkins' large oil paintings related to the fur trade were all based on drawings and watercolours that she did while on trips like this one. This beautiful painting is an image of serenity in the wilderness, combining realistically observed details with a lyrical and romantic style.