James J. Blomfield [1872-1951]
The Poplars in Scarborough
4 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (11.4 x 13.9 cm)
Etching on paper.
signed, titled & marked "#1" in pencil.
Framed. 10 1/2 x 12 inches (26.8 x 30.5 cm)
James J. Blomfield (originally James Jerris Bloomfield) [1872-1951] Born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, son of Henry Bloomfield artist and engraver. He worked as a junior draftsman in an architectural office. Following his family's move to Calgary in 1887, he studied painting and engraving in Calgary between 1887-1889. He likely received early instruction from his father in water colour and stained glass. James spent a period on the plains of his early teens as a cowpuncher. On his return home he followed his father's profession including learning the fine art of stained glass. When the family moved to New Westminster in 1889 is father opened the first art glass business in B.C. In 1894 James illuminated an address to welcome the Governor General of Canada, Lord Aberdeen. Aberdeen was so impressed with the young man's talent that he sponsored his art education in England and Belgium. Subsequently Bloomfield studied at the Art Student's League of New York. In 1899, he studied with art glass firms in Chicago, New Orleans, London and Manchester. He sent window designs from England to his father's firm for the memorial windows honouring Bishop Sillitoe in Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster. His brother Charles was also employed in his father's firm. James returned to B.C. as a skilled designer, stained glass artist, water colourist, and etcher. About this time he dropped one of the 'O's from his name. He decorated, along with firm members, the Parliament Buildings and memorial windows for Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. In Vancouver he designed the Queen Victoria memorial fountain for Stanley Park. Ge made a special study of the Indian tribes of the Pacific Coast and applied this subject matter to many of his own designs and paintings. In 1907 he went back to the U.S. to the State of Washington, the American mid0west and Chicago where he worked for the Christian Science Monitor as staff writer in Boston. In 1920 he returned to Canada and settled in Toronto. There he did many paintings of the churches and his work was held in high regard for its accuracy in architectural detail. He designed the entrance walls of a Toronto Bathing Pavilion, in a technique called sgraffito, by which a layer of coloured plaster is laid over a dry underlayer and while the top layer is still damp, it is incised with designs revealing the underlayer. In his painting Blomfield was described by A.H. Robson in 1932 as follows, "As a painter he is best known for his work in water colour, in which medium he paints with a fine freedom, if somewhat traditional in execution. While he has produced many pictures of the mountains and plains, his work in Toronto and its environs constitute his most important contribution to painting." As a water colourist he was cited by William Colgate in 1943 for his attention to changing skies, the reflection of light on the water, light and shadow on distant landscape, scenes of his neighbourgood done in joyous colour. In 1951, Blomfield died in Toronto from injuries he received when he was struck by an automobile. He married Mary Diamond of Belleville, Ontario in 1902. She died in 1932. They had no children. His work was shown in several Toronto galleries including The Carroll Gallery and Maloney's Art Gallery (1933). He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists. - MACDONALD, A Dictionary of Canadian Artists Vol 1. Ottawa: 1997
See Artists in Canada: A List of Artists' Files. National Gallery of Canada: 1999.