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Horatio Walker


Centurion, 1890–1938

Born 12 May 1858 in Listowel, Ontario, Canada

Died 27 September 1938 in Sainte Pétronille, Quebec, Canada

Buried Crypt, St. Mary's Anglical Chapel, Sainte-Pétronille, Quebec, Canada

Proposed by Walter Shirlaw and George Willoughby Maynard

Elected 1 November 1890 at age thirty-two

Archivist’s Note: He resigned in 1896 and was reinstated in December 1928 with a new set of proposers, August R. Franzen and Harry W. Watrous.

Century Memorial

It was in Canada that Horatio Walker was born and it was on the Ile d’Orléans, in the St. Lawrence below Quebec, that he spent the greater part of his life. His first success as a painter, however, came in New York where he arrived, a youth of twenty, in the year 1878. Undaunted by a large city and largely untaught he opened a studio and had the unusual skill and good fortune to make his living from an early age. He was enabled to travel abroad and see and study the works of his two favorite masters, Michelangelo and Turner; he sold at rapidly mounting prices—one of his pictures fetched $20,000—and in the eighties, falling in love with the Quebec countryside, transferred his headquarters there. He secured a big, comfortable house with a great studio and a sweeping view of the old city of Quebec, the Laurentian Hills, and Montmorency Falls. He had become a citizen of the United States, but his heart belonged to the habitants. He learned their language, decided their disputes, and they became his favorite models. His was a singularly calm and successful life for an artist and his pictures reflected his years. Because he painted workers in the fields he was inevitably dubbed the American Millet, but the tag fitted ill. None of the pathos of the European peasant invades his sunlight and clear color. There are figures in his landscapes, woodcutters, ploughmen, haymakers, horses, turkeys, sheep, but no “Man With a Hoe.” Partly the contrast lay between the Barbizon peasant and the habitant, between the whole atmospheres of the two settings. More it lay in the minds of the two painters who, had their easels been side by side, would have painted utterly different pictures.

Geoffrey Parsons
1938 Century Memorials