Rapids at Le Chat on the Ottawa River

Alfred Holdstock

Rapids at Le Chat on the Ottawa River

About the Artist

A painter and educator, Alfred Worsley Holdstock was born in Bath, England and educated at Oxford University, England. He immigrated to Montreal in 1850 and took a teaching position at the Government National School in Montreal where he taught drawing for 21 years (c. 1852 -1873). After which he turned to painting full time. The majority of Holdstock's works were in pastel and watercolour. He painted mostly landscapes illustrating the wilderness of eastern Canada and north eastern United States. Holdstock's paintings tended to showcase native subjects and there activities in and around rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Alfred Worsley Holdstock died in Montreal in 1901. His works were widely collected and many institutions house his paintings including: National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), The Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and the McCord Museum of Canadian History (Montreal).

Comments on the Work

The majority of Holdstock's works were of native subjects and the pastel "Rapids at Le Chat on the Ottawa River" showcases his abilities to convey the colour, river rapids, and the motion of the canoe. Holdstock tended to paint what he saw in the landscapes of early Canada. As an immigrant from England the natives were what impressed him as very different from what he had experienced in England. Cornelius Krieghoff, also represented in the collection with the work "Crossing the River at Quebec in Winter, 1869" was enthralled with the native subjects and painted a great many of them in their everyday life. While Krieghoff used oils to capture his scenes Holdstock used coloured pastels on paper to record his works. Pastels in the painting sense are really compressed sticks of coloured dust and Holdstock had the talent and ability to convey the sense of individual leaves on the trees, the swirl of the rapids in the river beautifully with that medium.