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Great Canadian Art & Artists

The Advertising Art of Art Hider

Arthur Henry Hider (1870-1952) - 2

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Gooderham & Worts Ltd., Art Hider
Orig. plate - Image Size -
Found - Toronto, ON

One of Art's most fabulous creations is this Bird's Eye View of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery in Toronto, Canada.

In the days before airplane views, US artist Richard Rummell - see his fabulous Chateau Laurier litho - popularized these views as seen from a bird's eye view.

And booze, booze was the bane of 19th and early 20th century Canada. Canadian pioneers drank it by the bucket - mostly homemade stuff - at forest clearing parties, dances, and barn-raisings.. When commercial production began the great booze fortunes like the Gooderhams and the Bronfman's were born often at horrific cost to families when the primary breadwinner without work, without hope, drank too much...

Art had married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Moore (left), both shown in later life, on the steps of their Toronto house. Together they often picnicked on the Toronto Islands, Mary spreading out the lunch of fried chicken, while Art painted nearby, coming back now and then to take a swig of whiskey, which they had brought along in a basket. He was to outlive her by eighteen years. He grieved deeply when she died, and was so devoted to her memory that he never married again, but moved in with a bachelor brother.

After the Boer War Arthur Hider applied his talent again to domestic scenes of Canadian life in the opening years of the 20th century.

Art excelled at painting horses, capturing - in the days before Canada's love affair with the internal combustion engine swept it aside - the deep attachment Canadians had to their horses. His images below, showed clearly why he was considered Canada's finest animal artist of his day.

Recalls Nancy Geisler, "My grandfather always said you would never get four horses to drink together like this."

The Personal Art Hider: Writes Nancy Geisler, "Arthur was short in stature, and a bit shy, but very handsome and warm and charming in personality. He had a quiet and delightful sense of humor. Though he did so well, he never forgot his family. He was very generous; for example he provided assistance with education expenses or whatever else was needed. Often he would hand out a painting as a present, so that many relatives own a horse painting or two - just as well, because most could not afford to purchase his work. And when he won at the track, sometimes that was the excuse for a piece of silverware, or other nice gift."

The Final Years: When his wife Mary (above) died in 1934, Art (left), moved in with his bachelor brother Fred (back). Recalls niece Ruth Emery, "Arthur Hider lived with his brother Fred until he reached a very ripe old age, and became senile, at which point Fred found him a decent nursing home in Claremont where he was well looked after. Ruth recalls that Art showed his artistic nature even when senile. She recalls he once cut up a pillow, and extracted all the feathers, and arranged them all over the bed in an extraordinarily beautiful pattern."

In an oddity of history, Arthur Hider, probably Canada's finest realist painter of his day, died in Claremont, in 1952, in the same small Ontario village, where Tom Thomson, perhaps Canada's finest impressionist painter, had been born in 1877.

The Final Testament: Wrote the late Russell Hider, "Art was a great admirer and user of Schneider's meat products and used to paint hams and cold cuts for them. After he had retired, Schneider's wanted to use a plate of bacon and eggs for advertising. They had some colored photographs to look over, and one of the men said, "These are no good, there is only one man who can paint these so they look fit to eat and that's Art Hider." They tried, but he was too old and couldn't do it anymore."

And the world became a poorer place with his passing.....

During his career Arthur Hider completed commissions for The Ontario Jockey Club, Massey Harris, Allis-Chalmers, Saskatchewan Flour Mills, Schneider's Meats, P. Burns & Co. Calgary, Monarch Belting, Calgary Brewing and Malting Co., the Allan Line, North American Insurance Co., Merchants Rubber Co., the Royal Bank, Great West Life, Seagrams, Dawes-Black Horse, the Northern Navigation Co., and the Globe and Mail.

Arthur Hider's work is today in the collections of the Canadian Archives, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian War Museum, the Jockey Club of Ontario, and numerous private collections.

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Fabulous Art...

Thousands of Canadians collect Art Hider's advertising art, proud to hang it in their homes, even a century later, because it is so pictoriously fabulous.

And more are becoming aware of the man who created it, so long ago.

Advertising for Black Horse Ale - Art Hider
Orig. litho - Image Size - 35 x 75 cm
Found - Burlington, ON

Art Hider's Canadian West: Writes Art's grandniece, Nancy Geisler, "Here is the Calgary Brewing and Malting logo as registered in 1893. The company was bought out by Canadian Breweries in 1961, by Rothman's in 1969, renamed Carling O'Keefe in 1973, purchased by Foster's Brewing of Australia in 1981, and finally taken over by Molson Breweries in 1989. It was closed in 1994. I believe this is Arthur Hider's work, as it certainly looks just like the family's buffalo sketch, and in 1973 Russell (Hider) wrote a bio in which he mentioned Uncle Art doing work for this company.

"Art for him was always more than work; it was a passion. At one point, Arthur traveled to Calgary, and spent some time living with the Indians, in order to understand them and be able to paint them. Later this experience would help him greatly in producing credible historical work."

Doggone Good: Above, a sketch for a commercial client that a family member retrieved, and saved for posterity, from Art's waste paper basket.

Art has so wonderfully captured the personalities, and the interplay, of the dogs that it is hard not to smile every time one looks at it.

More Horse Tales: Art also painted horses for Dawes Brewery of Montreal, PQ.

The Dawes factory (below at Lachine, Quebec, in 1905), had begun operations in 1826, and exported its famous brew all over the world. Its state-of-the-art plant boasted a refrigeration unit with a huge ice-making machine.

The Dawes family, with its large herds of prize dairy cattle and hop farms, was noted as a great booster of Canadian agriculture. They were also famous for the breeding program which had won renown for their great stable of Canadian racehorses. In fact JP Dawes was noted as the man whose own horses had won more Queen's Plates (above) than any other Canadian.

Art's horse portraits exude the love he felt for fellow creatures, who had, more than any other, been partners in creating the new Canada at the dawn of the 20th century.
>Nancy Geisler notes the dedication that went into a painting: "One client stated that when Art arrived at her home to paint her favorite horse, he spent hours simply looking at her horse before starting the preliminary sketches, and then went so far as to take sample hairs from his coat and tail, to make sure he accurately matched the color."