Thursday, May 03, 2007

William Winter (1909-1995)

Another very regular contributor to Canada's magazines in the 50's was William Arthur Winter.

Winter may never be considered to have had the artistic stature of a Cahén or a an Arbuckle... but I have to say, I'm extremely fond of his work.

Artists who experimented with a variety of styles and techniques, who had the versatility to try many approaches, have always held a special interest for me - and William Winter was definitely one such artist. (Perhaps, in the small pond of Canadian commercial art, stylistic versatility was a key to survival).

Winter's illustrations often had a sort of lyrical, storybook quality to them - and he seems to have been assigned many projects that involved the portrayal of children. He even wrote and illustrated a June 1954 article in Chatelaine magazine for young parents entitled "Hey Pop - It's Raining Out!" with the credit line "by William Winter, artist and father of two".

Winter's expertise, sensitivity, and interest in drawing and painting children seems to have lead to his later career in fine arts: the Roberts Gallery has a good selection of his work from that period, when Winter focused almost exclusively on stylized paintings of children. Click here to see a page of examples.

The piece below, done in the 1960's for Prudential Insurance, is a pretty good example of Winter's later painting style and suggests that he was still involved with the commercial side of the art business.

There is some biographical information on William Winter at this site.

You can see all of today's images at full size in my William Winter Flickr set.

Well, that's it for our week-long look at Canadian illustrators of the 50's. Of course there were others -- and plenty of them! If you've read this blog for a while you're already familiar with James Hill and my friend, Will Davies. In the coming weeks and months you'll meet some others as well.


  1. I love the skier. It's kinda freaky because stylistically, I would've handled some things in very similar ways. He's got a great range of styles though.

    Thanks for doing the 1950s Canadian illustration spotlight!

  2. Thanks spacejack -- I'm glad you enjoyed the week and i appreciate your comment!

    Yes, one thing that always amazes me is how sophisticated (ahead of their time?) some artists were in terms of stylization.

  3. Right on, this is great stuff. Leif, maybe you can have people contribute bits and posts about illustration or illustrators in other countries?

  4. That's an excellent idea Stan!

    We had a good start on that front when david Roach contributed his British illustration collection -- and I would happily throw the door open to anyone who cares to share their knowledge and related scans!

  5. Anonymous10:58 PM


    great job! insight details and regularly updated! thank you!

    loyal reader

  6. Thanks, loyal reader!

    Cheers to you, too - L :-)

  7. Anonymous7:59 PM

    It cool for you to display so many arts!

  8. Anonymous10:25 PM

    Wow, I wonder what mine is worth?

  9. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Wow! I wonder what mine's worth?

  10. Peter R9:36 AM

    Great piece, thanks for sharing. I got a painting at an auction that was not signed, but "attributed to William Arthur Winter". Any idea how one would validate that? His style is so varied, it is hard to discern a specific style. Here's a picture:

    1. Winter was represented by Robert's Gallery in Toronto and I think they still have some of his work, you might ask them.