BlogMarch 1, 1994

Randolph Hewton, One Of Canada's Best Painters

Albert Robinson always spoke very highly of Randolph Hewton. A.Y. Jackson admired him also, saying he was the only one who could actually paint a 20" x 24" canvas from nature, working so confidently and quickly. A.Y. could barely finish a sketch in time before weather and light would change. He did criticise him though for having given up painting due to illness in the thirties and then becoming a businessman. The family business needed someone to take charge and he was the only one they could turn to. At that time, I had never seen a painting by Randolph Hewton, whom Albert Robinson considered one of the three best painters Canada had had. Robinson had one in his basement, a gift from Randolph, and he showed it to me so as to make me a little familiar with his work. It was a very attractive small study of a female nude and I liked it very much. Robinson rarely had anything of his own to sell, except when he got something back from friends and relatives who were only too pleased to get rid of something they had never appreciated. Because of severe arthritis Robinson could no longer paint. I asked if I could buy the Hewton. Robinson hesitated, it had been a gift and Hewton was still alive. However, Mrs. Robinson, who had never allowed her husband to hang the picture, forcefully took my side. The painting is now in the permanent collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

 

 Walter Klinkhoff with Arthur Lismer, Edwin Holgate and A.Y. Jackson at Hewton Retrospective Exhibition Opening (1962).

 

When l saw Hewton's obituary in the newspaper in 1960, I inquired as to the heirs and discovered that Hewton had left everything to an employee of the Glen Miller Paper Box Co. of which Hewton had become president. Hewton had been a widower for some years and Hugh Campbell had become a friend and later became president of the company. I arranged with Hugh a retrospective exhibition and all the many paintings by Hewton were turned over to me. He had died with much of his life's work still in his possession. He had stopped painting in the late thirties, long before Canadian art began to be popular. Due to a kidney ailment, a doctor told him that painting outdoors in the winter would be his death. He was principally a landscape painter and enjoyed less the painting of portraits even though he could do this in the studio. I also bought from the estate quite a number of paintings by other artists, mainly Robinson, Jackson and Pilot. Hewton's wife was related to many wealthy Montrealers and was herself well off. The rich Montreal relatives were furious that nothing had been left to them. None of them had ever bought a painting from Hewton. They had in their families a few gifts, received from him. Campbell told me that the last thing Hewton wanted was to have anything go to them. A cousin of his wife's from California had been close to Hewton and Campbell told me to let her select a painting as a gift and memento. She could not find one she liked. When I had the exhibition, for which Jackson wrote a very nice and thoughtful introduction to the catalogue, this lady suddenly liked some of the paintings and wanted to take one. Campbell instructed me to "let her buy it, she can well afford it". She did not. The Hewton Retrospective Exhibition took place in my gallery in 1962. I still cherish a photograph taken of myself on this occasion with Lismer, Holgate and Jackson. The exhibition was a great success.

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