Robert Weir Crouch
(Henley-on-Thames, Angleterre, 1865 – Lancaster, New Hampshire, 1943)
Cover of the Calendar for the Year 1898 with some Drawings Suggestive of the Every-day Life of the Past in Canada
Toronto Art League, Calendar for the Year 1898 with some Drawings Suggestive of the Every-day Life of the Past in Canada, The Toronto Engraving Co and the Bryant Press for the Toronto Art League, 1897
Library and Archives of the National Gallery of Canada
Photo: Library and Archives of the National Gallery of Canada
This 1898 calendar was designed by members of the Toronto Art Students’ League. The cover illustration in the then dominant Art Nouveau style features a profusion of plant motifs and an overall symmetrical layout. The maple tree – the ultimate Canadian icon – announces the nationalist theme developed on the inside pages in representations of everyday life in Canada. By illustrating major international trends each year, the League’s calendar played an important role in the development of homegrown graphic design.
In the late 19th century, artists in different disciplines formed professional associations that became catalysts in the arts community. The Toronto Art Students’ League was the first group to encourage the graphic arts in Canada, with drawing classes, exhibitions and publications. Its members produced annual calendars from 1893 to 1904, each illustrating an explicitly Canadian theme – rural life, maritime routes, sports and hobbies, etc. – in a creative layout. Throughout the 20th century, many artists who marked the history of Canadian art also practiced illustration and design, among them Tom Thomson, David B. Milne and Jack Bush.