Sampson Matthews Story and Silkscreens at Danfield Antiques and Art

Danfield Antiques Presents Sampson Matthews, A.J. Casson and The Group of Seven

About fifteen years ago I attended an auction of art that had graced the offices of a large North American oil firm. Among the many original paintings and prints were two silk screen offerings depicting scenes of Canadian industry from the 1950’s.

I knew nothing about the silk screens but really liked them and purchased them. At some point I learned that they had been created by the firm of Sampson and Matthews of Toronto. After that I began to notice other silk screen works by this same company.

In 2015 a most wonderful book by Ian Sigvaldason and Scott Steedman entitled “Art For War And Peace; How a Great Art Project Helped Canada Discover Itself’ was published by Red Leaf Books. The book tells in detail how the printing firm of Sampson and Matthews brought the work of the Group of Seven and other leading Canadian artists to our Armed Forces wherever they fought in World War II, and then to Canadian institutions, and galleries across the Country. This book is so beautifully done that it can only fire your passion for Canadian art, as it did mine. It will also turn you onto these silk screens.

The art created using the silk screen technique would in large part be selected by A.Y. Jackson, and the technical work would be overseen by Sampson Matthews art director and Vice president A.J. Casson.

And so it was, armed with this information, the following happened: a couple of months ago I was invited to a home to view some photographic equipment. There, my Wife and I met with a very lovely lady and her two adult sons on a briskly cold day in their garage. Susan went with the lady inside while I stayed outside and spoke with the two men.

At some point in our conversation, the name of the printing company Sampson Matthews was spoken. I immediately launched into a Ted talk regarding the importance of Sampson Matthews to the Canadian art scene, while the two brothers and unknown to me grandsons of the company founder Charles Matthews, stood patiently and listened. When I was finished, they looked at me and nodded as if to say; yeah that sounds about right.

The penny would eventually drop and when it did, I realized I was being gifted with another amazing Canadian art and antique super story.

We are going to be telling that story at our store this Spring and Summer. It seems fitting that it is our store housing this event. As many of you already know, our store was transported from Source Lake in Algonquin Park and rebuilt here in Clarksburg in 1954. The building was one of a number of buildings known as Glen Donald Lodge.  With its’ high arched timber ceiling our store is an excellent space to display Canadiana; basically a miniature McMichael. Maybe we’ll call it Minimike. Not very far at all from Source Lake lies Canoe Lake where the Matthews family would vacation and spend time with some of the most legendary artists associated with the Canadian landscape. We have some spine tingling stories to tell you of Canoe lake when you come for a visit.

At our Sampson Matthews exhibit we will have on display to show and sell you, some of the silk screen works. But what we will also have is much of the back story of Sampson Matthews in the form of original photographs (some of these photos have only been seen in reference books until now) as well as original notes from Group of Seven artists to Charles Matthews, commenting specifically on the silk screens.

We’ll have some hand signed biographies of Canadian artists from the collection of Charles Matthews.

And then we will have an outstanding collection of work by A.J. Casson. New old stock as they say on American Pickers. The selection includes beautiful prints made by A.J himself while working at Sampson Matthews and a brilliant selection of greeting cards featuring Cass’s art and hand signed by him. These cards are an accessible way of acquiring Group of Seven work, make great gifts in themselves and are suitable for framing.

We will be presenting framing options through our friends at Kilby Gallery in Clarksburg and through The Colour Jar in Durham

Please come and see us from Thursdays through Sundays or call for your own guided tour.

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