Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canadian artist George Franklin Arbuckle attended the Ontario College of Art where he studied under J.W. Beatty, F.S. Challener, J.E.H. MacDonald and others. Following his graduation, he began teaching at the Northern Vocational School and took summer classes at Franz Johnston’s Art School in Georgian Bay. During World War II, Arbuckle decided to work as a commercial artist. He was employed by Bomac Engravers for several years in Ottawa and Montreal and returned to freelance work in 1944.
His easel paintings are usually representational (landscapes and city scenes with figures), done in varying degrees of realism and impressionism. For many years his paintings appeared between and on the covers of Maclean’s magazine—portraits striking a happy medium between caricature and realism.
He was an active muralist, producing works for Hamilton City Hall (1962); Shawinigan Water and Power Company; New East Block Building, Ontario Provincial Government, Toronto (1969); C.P.R. Railway Carriage; design of two tapestries for the Royal Bank of Canada Building, King Street, Toronto (30″ by 19″), woven at Aubusson, France (1965) under his supervision; two tapestries for Chateau Champlain, Montreal (1968) and others.
Western Hemlock was made for the 1950 Pulp and Paper series. In it, a dark and dense hemlock forest opens a vista through it to forested hillsides with mountains beyond, all under a rich blue sky. It speaks of the great bounty of natural resources, including wood for paper making, which Canada has to offer. Ironically, sixty years later, that bounteous view is under question, as our need for resources puts a strain on our landscape.
Arbuckle exhibited regularly, including solo shows at the Art Gallery of Toronto (1940); Roberts Gallery, Toronto (1971, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1991) and Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal (1986 and 1989). His awards include two Jessie Dow Prizes – Montreal Museum Fine Arts Spring Shows (1946 and 1947) and four major prizes—Montreal Directors’ Club.
He was a member and officer of the Royal Canadian Academy, (Associate–1936) (Member–1945) (Vice-President–1959) (President-1960–1964). Arbuckle is represented in many corporate and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.