The Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives is pleased to be displaying a Sampson-Matthews Canadian Collection of Silkscreen Art. A vivid display of 14 prints portraying the Canadian landscape is at the museum to enjoy until October 15th.
Sampson-Matthews Ltd. was a leading and highly-respected Canadian graphic art company and its print program (1942-1963) was one of the largest public art projects in Canadian history. The prints showed a mastery of the silkscreen techniques and used up to 10 to 20 different oil colours in each print. The prints are credited with enhancing public knowledge of Canadian art and the national identity throughout the 1940s to 1960s, and they continue to be valued as works of art in their own right to this day.
The Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives is located at 97 Thomas Street East in Napanee. Find out more about exhibits currently on display at the museum here or call 613-354-3027.
About Sampson-Matthews Ltd.
Sampson-Matthews Ltd. was a leading and highly respected Canadian graphic art company in Toronto founded by Ernest Sampson and Charles Matthews. Alfred J. Casson joined Sampson-Matthews Ltd, and eventually became the company's Art Director and, later, the Vice-President. The company is best known for the Sampson-Matthews print program (1942-1963), which reproduced works by Canadian artists into high-quality silkscreen prints and distributed them across Canada.
The Sampson-Matthews print program was one of the largest public art projects in Canadian history. The program was the product of a collaboration between Charles Matthews, Alfred J. Casson, the Chief Designer at Sampson-Matthews Ltd. and member of the Group of Seven; H.O. McCurry, director of the National Gallery of Canada; and A.Y. Jackson, painter and member of the Group of Seven.
The initial goal of the Sampson-Matthews print program was to create sponsored reproductions of Canadian paintings for display at armed forces bases and administrative offices around the world as a reminder of what they were fighting for during the Second World War. The first series of wartime prints were printed in 1942, and were approved for distribution by the Department of National Defence in 1943. These wartime prints were so popular that they were also featured in art exhibitions, public schools, libraries, dentists' offices, banks, corporate offices, and in embassies across Canada and internationally. In total, there were 36 wartime prints by renowned Canadian artists.
After the end of the Second World War, Sampson-Matthews Ltd. encouraged the continuation of the prints program. From 1945 to 1963, Sampson-Matthews Ltd. would produce almost 100 additional silkscreen prints featuring reproductions of works by Lawren S. Harris, Emily Carr, David Milne and Naomi Jackson Groves. Although the program ended in 1963, Sampson-Matthews Ltd. produced prints of certain designs into the 1970s.
The Sampson-Matthews silkscreen prints showed a mastery of the silkscreen techniques and used up to 10 to 20 different oil colours in each print. The prints are credited with enhancing public knowledge of Canadian art and the national identity throughout the 1940s to 1960s, and they continue to be valued as works of art in their own right to this day. They can be found primarily in private collections around the world, as well as in public art collections, including in the Penticton Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
(Research courtesy of The National Gallery of Canada)