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DE FOREST INDEX
HENRY JOSIAH DE FOREST
HISTORY INDEX
'T.R. Hardiman, in a letter to the Vancouver Province in 1928 also wrote that he
"... established the Pioneer Art Gallery in 1887 [522 Cordova], opposite the C.P.R. Station on Cordova Street and conducted it until the late nineties....
The writer’s place was the rendezvous for artists, Messrs. Mower Martin, Bell Smith, SeForest, Ferris, Lee Rogers, whose studio was at the writer’s, 622 Cordova Street...." ' [p. 2.]
'H.J. DeForest, the first secretary, and Lee Rogers, the first treasurer of the [Art, Historical and Scientific] Association....'
The Association’s first venture was an Art Loan Exhibition. Held at Dunn Hall, Granville Street, November 1-7, 1894, it was officially opened by the Governor-General, Lord Aberdeen.' [p. 10.]
'Few details are known of the Vancouver artists of the late 1880’s and 1890’s and, so far as can be ascertained, very few paintings of the period (with the exception of some by H. Tomtu Roberts, A. Lee Rogers, Will Ferris and H.J. DeForest) have been preserved.' [p. 13.]
'Henry J. DeForest (1855-1924) was considered, during his life, to have been one of Vancouver’s foremost painters. Born and educated in New Brunswick, Colgate says that he studied drawing and painting at the South Kensington School of Art, London and the Julién Acadamy, Paris. He first came to Vancouver in 1891, but it was not until 1898 that he settled permanently in the city. In 1894 he became the first secretary of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association, a post he only held for a short time as the left the city later the same year. During this time he is believed to have travelled extensively.' [p. 15.]
'Examples of his work in the late 1890’s, such as "Vancouver Waterfront" (1898) (Plate III), now in the Centennial Museum, and other paintings in the Vancouver City Archives, show the influence of Victorian England in their strict adherence to detail and in the literal transcription of the scenes they depict. Also included in the Centennial Museum’s collection of his work are three large canvasses, "Crater of Kilavea, Hawaii" (1893), "Crater, Hawaii" (c. 1894), and "Waterfall" (1899). Although DeForest lived and worked in Vancouver during the 1890’s, he played a more active role in the city’s art circles after the turn of the century.' [p. 16.]
He was a founding member, although not an officer, of the Vancouver Arts and Crafts Association, meeting on April 25, 1900 in a room at the Molson’s Bank Building. See Daily News-Advertisor, June 12, 1900. [p. 18.]
DeForest held exhibitions in 1900, 1901, 1903. 'During April 1900 he had "on view in Dr. McLaren’s Dental Parlours, Fairfield Block, a very fine collection of paintings of British Columbia scenery". In April 1901 his work could be seen at Bishops Art Store, and Thompson’s photographic studio, and in December 1903 he exhibited in the rooms of the Vancouver Tourist Association. [p. 21.]
'There is no mention in the Daily News-Advertiser of an art show in connection with the Provincial Exhibition in the years 1905-1907. But in October 1908, the Ontario Society of Artists sent more than fifty paintings for exhibit at this Exhibition. These were arranged and hung by H.J. DeForest....' [p. 25.]
'The Art, Historical and Scientific Association continued to play a major role in the cultural life of the city in the early years of the twentieth century. Free lectures on a wide variety of topics were given in the "museum" at the corner of Smythe and Granville Streets. Besides these free lectures, other lectures and concerts were presented from time to time and the proceeds were applied to the maintenance of the collection or for the purchase of additional items.' [p. 25.]
'The Vancouver Museum was formally opened in its new quarters on the top floor of the Carnegie Library, April 19, 1905. Later that year H.J. DeForest, who had long been the secretary, was appointed curator: "Provision being made by the city for remuneration of the office".' [p. 27.]
’since its formation in 1904 the Studio Club had done much promote the cause of art in Vancouver. However, by late 1908 there were a number of professional, artists in the city, and although the Studio Club exhibitions had provided a place to show their work, this was not an entirely satisfactory arrancement to them. As a result there had been a growing feeling among this group for some time that they should form a society similar to the Ontario Society of Artists which would be more suited to the needs of the professional artist, and work toward establishing exhibitions of a higher caliber than had hitherto been attempted in Vancouver. It was decided therefore at a meeting in 1908 attended by T.W. Fripp, John Kyle, J. MacIntosh Gow, H.J. DeForest and S.P. Judge that other artists in British Columbia should be approached with the idea of forming such an art Society in the province. This was followed by a general meeting November 13, 1908, at 651 Hastings Street. where final arrangements were made for an organization which would seek incorporation under the title of the British Columbia Society of Fine Arts, (BCSFA). By-laws were passed and it was proposed that the First Annual Exhibition should be held in March 1909. The Society was incorporated early in 1909 and included twenty artists.' [p. 38.]
DeForest exhibited at both the Society’s second exhibition held November 1909 in the Mercantile Building, Homer and Cordova and Third exhibition May 1910, Pender Hall [p. 40.]
The November 1913 Exhibition was held in the School Board offices, as were subsequent shows until 1925. DeForest exhibited in 1913 [p. 42.]
'... H.J. DeForest played an active role in most of the major artistic developments which occurred in the city during that time. As Secretary of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association in the early years of the century, the annual reports of that association suggest his involvement in the important planning stages for the Vancouver Museum. Appointed curator of the Museum in 1905, when he retired from this position in 1912 Bernard McErvoy wrote:
Mr. DeForest has done more than any one other man towards the upbuilding of the Museum, and under his direction it has successfully developed into a considerable attraction ... He ... gave several years without reward.
Listed in "Who’s Who in Western Canada, 1911" as a landscape painter the newspapers contain numerous references to his work. In addition to exhibiting in Vancouver, his work was shown in Winnipeg in 1904, and in 1906, one of his paintings, "A Rugged Corner of Jervis Inlet", was reported to have been placed "in the illustrated series in the Catalogue of the Canadian National Exhibition of Art published under the auspices of the Ontario Society of Artists...." He was particularly noted for his paintings of the lakes, mountains, and sea coast of British Columbia. So far as can be determined his earlier paintings were tight and detailed, but there is some evidence that he later broadened his style, the reviewer of the BCSFA exhibition in 1918 writing that he showed "a somewhat new departure in his vigorous and effective treatmnent of mountain scenery". In 1919 he was described as "a representative of the older school of painting, and a worthy pioneer for many years in the cause of art in Vancouver". H.J. DeForest remained a member of the BCSFA until 1921, although the last exhibition in which he is known to have been represented was in 1919. He died in Calgary in 1924. The present location of most of his paintings is unknown, and although he was one of the principal exhibitors in the BCSFA exhibitions prior to 1919, it has not been possible to discover any of the works he painted during the period 1909 to 1919.' [pp. 49-50.]

The fine arts in Vancouver, 1886-1930: An historical survey, by William Wylie Thom, B.A., University of Alberta, 1965. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Fine Arts. The University of British Columbia, April, 1969.

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