Walter Klinkhoff: a dealer who shaped Canadian art collections
Wednesday, September 9, 1998
“This is our tribute to dad”, commented Alan Klinkhoff on Homage to Walter Klinkhoff, Part 1. Alan and his brother Eric have selected about 25 exceptional pieces, prior to 1950, that are amongst the cream of Canadian art. They were chosen from deceased artists their father personally knew or made a market in. Most of them are borrowed from collections that Mr. Klinkhoff helped formulate. His motto was always: “What they buy is their business, what I sell is mine.”
A long time resident of Hampstead, Mr. Klinkhoff, who died last year, started selling art in 1949, from a second floor duplex on Van Horne. He then moved to Union Ave. before settling in 1959 at the present location, on Sherbrooke St., where he established himself as one of the country’s foremost dealers. The estates of Clarence Gagnon and Randolph Hewton were both handled by Mr. Klinkhoff. It was right pickings after our strawberry season to choose Anne Savage’s The Strawberry Pickers, Cap-à-l’aigle. This fine painting, from a private collection, along with the charming Kathleen Morris oil La Promenade, from Dr. Norman and Judy Tepper’s collection, recalls the many retrospectives that the gallery held for members of the Beaver Hall Group. As for the canvasses by Krieghoff, Morrice and Maurice Cullen, over the years the gallery has been synonymous with buyers and sellers of their major works. Mrs. Klinkhoff, who remains active in the gallery, remembers trips to St. Rose where her husband bought many works from Marc-Aurèle Fortin. Mr. Klinkhoff also early recognized the talent of A.Y. Jackson, Edwin Holgate, Arthur Lismer, Albert Robinson, Robert W. Pilot and Adrien Hébert. He became friends with these artists and encouraged collectors to seek out their works.
The Horatio Walker, Scieurs de bois, is from the Power Corp. Collection. Mr. Klinkhoff’s dealings with that company go back even prior to the Paul Desmarais association. The rare Théophile Hamels belong to Marthe Labranche. When the gallery was incorporated, the law required a third director and Walter appointed her husband, Paul, a personal friend. Cullen’s superb canvas, Winter Near Beaupré is from Bram Garber’s Collection. Mr. Klinkhoff always considered Bram a true lover of Canadian art.
Over the years, Mr. Klinkhoff dealt with Canada’s richest and most powerful elite. Yet, in the 20 years that I knew him, he always found time for me and my modest collection. He once remarked, “I could not think of being in a nicer profession.” He always acknowledged the support of his wife, and was extremely pleased that his sons were following in his footsteps.
The gallery’s first show after Labour Day, is always one of museum quality and non of the paintings are ever for sale. This was Mr. Klinkhoff’s way of giving back something to the community. The exhibition starts Saturday at 1200 Sherbrooke St. W. and will continue until September 26. Part 2 will probably take place next year.
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