Welcome to the new Heffel website!

As we switch our platform over, our old website still remains active. To access the previous version of Heffel.com, please click here.

LOT 172

Robert Wakeham Pilot
1898 - 1967

Porte St. Louis, Quebec
oil on canvas
signed and on verso titled
32 x 28 in 81.3 x 71.1 cm

Estimate: $125,000 - $175,000

Sold for: $163,800

Preview at: Heffel Vancouver

Wallack Galleries, Ottawa
Private Collection, Calgary

Colin S. MacDonald, A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 6, 1982, page 1703

Robert Pilot was one of Canada’s painters who embraced the style and tenets of Impressionism. He trained at the Montreal Art Association under the influential teacher William Brymner. Brymner had studied both classical and Impressionist painting in France, and taught his students how to consider light, study atmosphere and evoke mood. He also steeped them in the technical side of painting with attention to its particular details, and Pilot was, throughout his career, very careful in the preparation of his canvases and panels, as well as in his choice of palette and materials. In addition to Pilot, Brymner taught Maurice Cullen, J.W. Morrice, Edwin Holgate and Clarence Gagnon. Brymner encouraged his students to travel, especially to France, and, as Colin MacDonald notes, at a farewell dinner upon the occasion of Holgate’s departure for France, Pilot was given the funds to follow by a guest, on the condition that he pay him back when he could. Pilot studied in Paris and worked from a studio there for several years, with Holgate joining him for a time. Subsequently, he lived his life in Canada and Europe, traveling with ease back and forth between Quebec and North Africa, England, France and Italy.
In his work, Pilot was concerned above all with atmosphere, and in this beautiful depiction of the old city of Quebec’s fortified ramparts, we have an example of his ability to depict a wintry Quebec atmosphere at its best. Porte St. Louis, Quebec is executed in a few closely related shades of grey and blue with additional accents of yellow together with black and white. The grey and blue tones are blended throughout the work and play nicely off of the blanketing white snow. The sky is hazy and very slightly tinted with pink. Against this wintry sky, the tracery of the darker trees on the left contrasts nicely with the square, more solid city walls at the right, and the structures beyond them soften as they fade into the distance. All of these features contribute to the dancing, transitory feeling of an Impressionist work – the finest branches of Pilot’s trees are delineated in a few spare brush-strokes. Pilot conveys the cold clearly; it is winter indeed. What makes this work really succeed, though, are the tiny spots of glimmering light seen sparkling through distant windows and lighting the way through an arch, which serve to warm the whole scene and give the work a welcoming appeal. A red sleigh has pulled up to the gazebo shop in the foreground that glows with light, adding a pleasing human touch to the work.
Pilot was especially fond of twilight, and we can assume that this is the time of day we see in this evocative scene with its subtle tones and feeling of evening. The couple walking toward the arch have none of the hurry of morning about them.
The fortified city of Old Quebec is a National Historic Site and is the only remaining fortified city on this continent north of Mexico.

Estimate: $125,000 - $175,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information posted, errors and omissions may occur. All bids are subject to our Terms and Conditions of Business.