Fonds 63 - Frederick Taylor

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Frederick Taylor

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2.94 m of textual records (approximately 3540 items)

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Biographical history

Frederick Bourchier Taylor was born in Ottawa on July 27, 1906 to parents Florence Magee and Plunkett Bourchier Taylor. He was preceded by an older brother E.P.Taylor, who became one of Canada's leading industrialists. Taylor's maternal grandfather, Charles Magee, founded the Bank of Ottawa while Taylor's paternal grandparents, the Bourchiers, upheld a tradition of military careers. The Taylors resided in both England and Canada while Fred Taylor was a young boy. He moved to Montreal in the late 1910s. During his years at McGill, he was highly involved in university life; he was the winner of boxing titles as well as a founding member of the Red Birds Ski Club. Taylor graduated as an architect from the McGill School of Architecture in 1930. While Taylor displayed great talent and potential as an architect, (he was awarded both a scholarship to the Sorbonne as well as the Governor General's award for highest academic standing, he also produced highly-accomplished drawings, sketches and prints while at school and after), Taylor ventured into fine arts and soon found this to be his calling.

Taylor went to London where he studied painting and engraving at the Goldsmith College of Art, London Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Byam Shaw School of painting. Taylor returned to Montreal in the mid 1930s whereupon he took up a post at McGill, teaching Drawing and Modeling from 1940 to 1943. He married his cousin, Miriam Magee, in 1936. Fred and Miriam had two sons, Jeremy, a photographer and Paul, parliamentary correspondent and member of parliament.

Taylor also began experimenting with oils at this time. He took up portraiture and his repertoire includes, among others, portraits of Stephen Leacock and R.E. Powell. Taylor soon became captivated by the Canadian war effort in the 1940s and became engaged with portraying industrialism and the war effort in Canada in accomplished works such as High Rivet, Talking Union and his steel works series. Taylor quickly moved into landscape painting and produced a great body of work in this vein from a great range of locales, from Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, to Quebec rooftops and Montreal's streets, to the community of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

It was during the late 1930s that Taylor really began to pursue his career as an artist. He began with drypoints, aquatints as well as engravings. These early works, including many public buildings and urban scenes in Ottawa and Quebec primarily, demonstrate Taylor's highly-attuned comprehension of the medium and his mastered hand in the art of printmaking as well as highlighting his meticulous attention to detail and the sophistication of the finished work.

Custodial history

The Fred Taylor fonds was donated to McGill University, Taylor's alma mater, in 1990 by Montreal collector John N. Mappin.

Scope and content

The fonds comprises nine series (including seven main categories of information) of records on the life and career of Frederick B. Taylor. It is the largest collection to date on Frederick B. Taylor. Biographical Information includes an excerpt from an unpublished autobiographical manuscript, Essays includes works such as "Reflections on painting Stephen Leacock", Photographs includes both professional and social snapshots. Two main facets of the Archive which hold particular interest are Works and Correspondence. Works includes over 1550 reproductions of Taylor's work. This selection is a cross-section of Taylor's artistic mediums and includes painting (landscape, industrial, portrait, still-life), etching, drawing, sculpture as well as six original prints and seven original canvases located at McGill University. Correspondence comprises some 2000 letters, documents or memorandums, spans from the early 1920s up until Taylor's death in 1987 and is divided into professional and personal series. The professional series focuses primarily on the relationships Taylor held with various private galleries and exhibitors of his work including the Klinkhoff, Kastel and Dominion Galleries in Montreal, the Roberts Gallery in Toronto as well as numerous Canadian public galleries and museums which remain repositories of Taylor's work, among them the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The personal section demonstrates Taylor's substantial and often life-long relationships with his family and friends, among them, artists André Bieler, Alan Harrison and Carl Allen Smart as well as Paul Wakefield and Colin Wyatt.

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  • English

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Taylor archives are also located in:
Vancouver Public Library — Fine Arts and Music Division
University of British Columbia — Fine Arts Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery — Clara Lander Library
London Public Library
National Archives of Canada — Documentary Art Library
National Gallery of Canada — Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario — Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts — Library
Contemporary Museum of Montreal — Media Centre

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Sources consulted

  • Taylor, Frederick B. "Artists Want Share in Our War Effort." Montreal Gazette, 27 January 1942 : 11.
  • -------. "Canadian Artists." World Affairs January 1943 : 17-18.
  • -------. "Impressions of Art in the Soviet Union." Canadian Art 9, no 2 (Christmas 1951-2) : 83-5.
  • -------. "Industry is Terrific." Canadian Art 3, no 1 (November 1945) : 30-2.
  • -------. "I Painted Stephen Leacock." McGill News 31, no 4 (Summer 1950) : 48-50.
  • -------. "On Art and Canadian Labour." Canadian Tribune (Toronto), 17 November 1945.
  • -------. "Painting War Production." World Affairs 8, no 5 (January 1945) : 17-8.
  • -------. "The Arts and Postwar Reconstruction." National Affairs (Toronto), March 1945 : 78-81.

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