Maple and Birch
Framed Sampson Matthews Silkscreen 1950
Signed by Print Supervisor A.J. Casson
The Sampson Matthews Company is one of Canada’s greatest art accomplishments in our nation’s history. The company was founded in the early 1920`s. The founding fathers of the company were Earnest Sampson and Charles Matthews. Group of seven artist A.J. Casson joined the company in 1926. The Sampson Matthews company began in the shadow of two successful print companies in Canada – Grip Limited and Rous and Mann Publishers. In the early days Sampson Matthews created vibrant paper silkscreen prints such as a Bird Series from Casson and Shott. The 1930`s were a time when many people accross Canada were being laid off and struggled to make ends meet. At this time the Sampson Matthews company were not very busy but managed to keep most of their staff on payroll.
The Wartime Print program began near the beginning of World War 2 in 1942 and continued until 1963. Many well-known Canadian artists took part in the program. These included A.J. Casson, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. Macdonald, Lawren Harris, B.C. Binning, Emily Carr, Tom Thomson to name just a few. The National Gallery of Canada would spearhead the project and have the Sampson Matthews Company in Toronto create the pieces. The prints were sent to many Mess Hall, Barrack`s, Military, and Government office to where Canadian’s troops were fighting during the war. The purpose was to ensure Canadian fighting overseas could be reminded of our Great country and the freedom we all enjoy because of their sacrifice. Many Soldiers would speak about seeing a particular piece every day and feeling proud to be Canadian.
Once the war was over the Sampson Matthews Company had incredible interest from private buyers as well as institutions, schools, hospitals etc. The company decided to offer these across the country to various Schools, Hospitals, Banks, and Government Offices. The collection consists of 99 silkscreen prints. 52 of the Sampson Matthews Silkscreens were produced in a large format of 30 inches by 40 inches, some are a few inches shorter than this. 47 were created in the smaller format of 20 inches by 27 inches.
Some of the Silkscreen prints were also hand signed by A.J. Casson. These rare prints are very sought after today and have been inspirations for Canadian’s for years.
When is a print more than just a print? The answer: When it’s a Sampson-Matthews silkscreen.
Prints aren’t as valued or sought-after by art collectors. However, Canadian art silkscreens produced by the Sampson-Matthews Ltd. company of Toronto from 1942-1963 hold a special place in the homes of many art collectors.
The silkscreens also hold a special place in the history of Canadian art and Canada.
The silkscreen process used up to 15 oil-based ink colours, depending on the original painting, meaning real paint was used in their production. Many of the colours were vibrant and bold. The silkscreens, laid over thick paper board, have stood the test of time amazingly well, many still looking vibrant decades later.
The Spirit of Fishing…