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Conflicting information is available for his birthdate and place. According to Who's Who in Western Canada (1911) he was born in 1855 in St. John, New Brunswick. Alternate information states (Robson / Harper) that he was born in Rothesay, New Brunswick in 1860.
He was educated at the Sackville Academy, New Brunswick. He married Ruth J. Newcombe in 1879., and then went to London, England, where he "took full advantage of study at South Kensington". He also studied at the Julian Academie in Paris, in Edinburgh, and in Italy. He took a long tour of Europe up to 1883, then emmigrated to New Zealand and subsequently to Tasmania. He returned to Canada, moving to New Brunswick in 1893, then to Vancouver in 1894, according to Harper, although these dates do not match the dates of his work for AHSAV.
He was listed as an Executive Officer of the Vancouver Arts and Crafts Association on the catalogue for the First Annual Exhibition in 1900, and he exhibited one drawing in the show.
He was Curator of the Vancouver Museum, and supported the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver for many years. He was the group's Secretary from 1889 until 1911.
He painted British Columbia's scenery, and exhibited his work in the B.C. Society of Fine Arts' debut First Annual Exhibition at the Dominion Hall in Vancouver, April 1909. Later that year another painting was shown at the Exhibition of Pictures held by the Vancouver Studio Club and School of Art.
He moved to Banff in 1921 where he extensively painted the Canadian Rockies. He passed away in Calgary in March, 1924, and is buried in Vancouver. His work was exhibited in the 1932 All Canadian Exhibition, and the 1950 and 1960 retrospective exhibitions of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts.
|1900 Sept. 25-27||VACA First Annual Exhibition||Vancouver, from Stanley Park|
|Lower Fall, Kootenay River|
|Gray Day in the Fraser Canyon|
|Sixty-One Mile Chasm on Cariboo Road|
|From the Shore of Stanley Park|
|Evening in the Fraser Canyon|
|At the Narrows, Stanley Park|
|Entrance to Fraser Canyon|
|Sunset, from Stanley Park|
|Yale Creek Falls|
|Wilson's Bay, Bowen Island|
|Lady Franklin Rock, Yale|
|Bonnington Falls, Kootenay River|
|The Lions, from Capilano Dam|
|Kootenay Lake, from No. 1 Mine|
|1909 April 20 -28||BCSFA First Annual Exhibition||The Kiss of Departing Day, Lake Louise|
|Mountains That Like Giants Stand, Lake Louise|
|The Beach At Portsborough, N.S.|
|The Old Fog Bell|
|Rise Up And Grow To Wondrous Heights, Mount Baker|
|A Passage In Earth's History, Yale-Cariboo Road|
|The King Of The Southern Alps|
|The Natural Bridge At Field|
|The Strength Of The Elements|
|1909 June 19 - July 17||Studio Club Exhibition of Pictures||Still Grinding|
|1909 November||BCSFA Second Exhibition||Back Bay, Clifton, N.S.W.|
|Onward to the Sea, Kootenay River|
|Columbia River, Wash., U.S.A.|
|The Rush of Many Waters, Bonnington Falls|
|Path of the Mountain Torrents|
|The Creek in the Meadow, Coast of Normandy|
|Homeward on the Tide, Normandy|
|Coldstream Ranch, Okanagan Valley|
|Hazy Morning, Coal Harbor|
|1910 May||BCSFA Third Exhibition||Capilano Canyon|
|Emerald Valley near Field, B.C.|
|1912 Nov. 25 - 30||BCSFA Annual Exhibition||Cathedral Donnes (?), Jervis Inlet|
|From the Beach at Buccanneer (sic) Bay|
|Early Morning, Marble Bay, Van Anda|
|Entering the Narrows at Eventide|
|Mt. Cook from Lake Puekaki, N.Z.|
|The Fraser Valley From Hope|
|1915 April||BCSFA Works by Members||Looking West from Stanley Park|
|Sunset from Stanley Park|
|Looking West from Horseshoe Bay|
|Mt. Garibald (sic), Howe Sound|
|In Lynn Creek, Canyon|
|Evening Glow, Stanley Park|
|Lynn Creek Falls|
|Early Morning, Horse Shoe Bay|
|Close of Day|
|1917 Sept. 14 - 22||BCSFA Eleventh Exhibition||Mt. Robson from W.|
|Maligne Lake, Jasper Park|
|Hazy Morning, Coal Harbour|
|East of Second Narrows|
|Opposite Kelowna, Okanagan|
|In Jervis Inlet|
|1921 Sept. 19 - 24||BCSFA 13th Annual Exhibition||Mount Assiniboia|
|Lake McArthur, Alta.|
|1932 May - July||VAG All Canadian Exhibition||Mount Aberdeen|
|1946 July 2 - 28||VAG Jubilee Exhibition||Near the Duck Pond, Stanley Park|
|1950 April 25 - May 14||BCSA 40th Annual Exhibition||Mount Hardisty, Athabaska River|
100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)
THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)
EARLY PAINTERS AND ENGRAVERS IN CANADA
(refer to H70)
Includes short reference to De Forest.
ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS -
EXHIBITIONS & MEMBERS 1880 - 1979 (refer to RCA81)
ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)
BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA
(refer to BIAC03)
4 references cited for De Forest, including Harper and RCA above.
VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - B.C. ARTISTS FILES (refer to VPL)
CITY & PROVINCIAL DIRECTORIES 1899/1907-10/1913/1915/1921 (refer to DIR)
FREEMASONRY web site for de Forest:
Includes additional web pages listing artwork and references.
"Vancouverites of the future will be glad that ... H.J. DeForest ...
and other Vancouver artists find imagination in local scenes."
"Vancouver Studio Club Spring Exhibition"
B.C. Saturday Sunset, July 3 1909
"Among those who contibuted to this early exhibition was
H.J. De Forest, a native of the Maritime Provinces, who was prepared for an artistic
career by various courses of study and a more prolonged opportunity of travel than
falls to most men. When he had secured all the elementary training that Canada could
give him, he started for London in 1879, where he took full advantage of study at
South Kensington, following it up with further courses in
Paris and Italy. During a prolonged tour that lasted until 1882, he saw most of the
great masterpieces of the world, and stayed long at the principal artistic centres.
Returning to Canada, he came West, and has ever since been regarded as one of the
pioneers and chief exponents of the art he loves so well. An enthusiastic lover of
nature, he has painted British Columbia's scenery in a way which has earned deserved
encomiums from all who know his work."
From "Art in British Columbia", by Bernard McEvoy
Opportunities Magazine, 1910
"In his three small pictures, Nos. 16, 17, and 18, Mr. H.J. de Forest exhibits
examples of what is no doubt a mature style. His drawing is good,
and his color effects enjoyable. A little more freedom of handling would greatly
improve these pictures; they appear to us a little too precise, though as transcripts of
actual scenes they no doubt have an accuracy that the impressionist is apt to lose. They
would reproduce admirably as color illustrations to a work on B.C. Scenery."
From "With The B.C. Artists", by "A Visitor"
Vancouver Daily Province, September 27, 1916
"Among members who have had the advantage of European training in the continental
schools are ... Mr. H.J. DeForest ... "
From "11th Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts", by Bernard McEvoy
"Studio Talk", Studio Magazine, Feb. 15, 1918; London England.
"Among local artists, Mr. H.J. de Forest, a
representative of the older school of painting, and a worthy pioneer for
many years in the cause of art in Vancouver, is seen to advantage in his
fine picture of Mount Robson. Mr. de Forest is familiar with our
British Columbia Alpine landscape; he has a good sense of color and a sincere
method of work. In this picture of the great mountain, its snowy crest
contrasted with the dark cloud behind it, the painter not only gives us
a topographical portrayal, but a picture which is rich in detail and
suffused with color. He is no more stereotyped in style than many of the
painters who have essayed to give us transcripts of British Columbia
scenery, and his picture will live when those of many less careful
paint-(?) have been forgotten."
From "Local Work is on View" by Bernard McEvoy
Vancouver Daily Province, October 2 1919
"The President, Mr. Bernard McEvoy, who was in
the chair, reported that H.J. De Forest, the well-known artist, had presented the
League with drawings of life class models made by him in 1896 ...
From "Important Meeting of B.C. Art League"
Western Woman's Weekly, April 23, 1921
"Mr. H.J. DeForest, the first secretary, soon left the city, but only for a
short time. Returning in 1889, he resumed the position, working for the love
of the museum and a pittance of anything between $25 and $75 a month as funds permitted.
In the year 1905 a serious robbery took place, and a large and valuable collection of
coins was taken. The culprit was found and justice meted out, but the coins were not
recovered. This happened on three occasions. Since then due precautions are taken. Gates,
locks, and bars make the museum fairly safe from burglars. Out of this disaster, however,
came some good, for the city granted a sum of money for the curator, and Mr. DeForest
was appointed to the position, which he held until 1911, when Mr.
Ferris shared the work, acting as secretary, while Mr. DeForest continued as Curator.
After Mr. DeForest resigned in 1912, Mr. Ferris held both posts. Mr. DeForest was a
clever artist, and his paintings were much in demand. Two of them hang on the wall of the
From "History of the A.H.S.A.V.-Biographical: Founders & Members"
Museum Notes, Vol. 1, No. 2 June 1926
"As we move further west, the name of Henry J. DeForest comes to mind. DeForest was
born in Rothesay, New Brunswick, in 1860, and studied art at the
South Kensington School of Art, London, the
Julian Academy, Paris, and also in Edinburgh. After sketching
in many parts of the world, he located in Vancouver in 1898, later moving to Banff,
where he made a great many paintings of the mountains. He died in Calgary in 1924. Mr.
DeForest was a landscape painter with a careful technique, inclined to rather literal
representation, but, during later years, his work broadened considerably in brushwork and
From Canadian Landscape Painters, Albert H. Robson; page 186
The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1932
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