Sampson-Matthews News Release

November 10, 2023

Art for War and Peace - An exhibition of Sampson-Matthews silkscreens

November 9 to 23, 2023 @ Mayberry Fine Art -- 212 McDermot Avenue


At the start of World War ll, Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson proposed that high-quality silkscreen

prints (serigraphs) of paintings by some of Canada’s most acclaimed artists be produced and shipped to

every Canadian Armed Forces unit for display in mess halls and barracks in Europe and beyond.

Jackson hoped the art would remind soldiers on the frontline what they were fighting for and would be

coming home to. Jackson had served as a war artist in World War I and recalled how barren the barracks

In partnership with the National Gallery of Canada and the Government of Canada, Jackson and fellow

artist A.J. Casson worked with expert Toronto printer Sampson-Matthews to turn Jackson’s idea into

reality. Some 25 corporate sponsors also helped fund the production.
Thirty painters including Emily Carr, Joseph Hallam, Albert Robinson, Fritz Brandtner, Jackson and

Casson and fellow Group of Seven artists agreed to contribute to the war effort. Their 36 different

paintings depicted familiar Canadian scenes and landscapes coast to coast.

In Canada, the 30” x 40”, oil on pressboard works in simple oak frames were hung in government offices,

banks, insurance companies, libraries, schools and Eaton’s store windows across Canada.  They cost $5

each, but only $4 for schools.
The war-time program proved so successful that after the war ended, an additional 24 artists were

added to the program and thousands more silkscreens were produced.

Canadian consulates and embassies abroad displayed the works by the country’s finest contemporary

artists, while complete sets of the prints were shown around the world in Russia, the U.S., Mexico,

Austria and France. The Bank of Montreal had a Sampson-Matthews silkscreen in every branch.

The program was the largest public art project in Canadian history, lasting 22 years (1941 – 1963) and

costing tens of millions in today’s dollars. A total of 54 artists produced 106 different works from which

the Sampson-Matthews silkscreens were made.

Of the tens of thousands of artworks sent overseas during the war, few to none returned – relegated to

the refuse pile along with most war-related equipment. Even the prints produced after the war often

met a similar fate.
Over the last 20 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Canada’s cultural war-time project and

the artworks.  Silkscreens of works by the most prominent artists now sell for $4000 to $8000 -- with the

estimated 30 to 40 Emily Carrs still existing selling at the top end of the range. Prints of lesser known

artists’ work fetch from $1200 to $3500.

Art for War and Peace at Mayberry Fine Art in the Exchange

November 9 to 23, 2023  @ 212 McDermot Avenue (Gallery is open Tuesday through

Saturday, although closed Nov. 11, Remembrance Day)

Art for War and Peace re-examines the war-time program and its contribution towards creating a shared

Canadian identity through art.

The exhibition includes 25 Sampson-Matthew silkscreens featuring Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, A.J.

Casson, Fritz Brandtner, Joseph Hallam, and B.C. Binning.

Several of the works came from a collector who had them since the 1960s, while the rest were acquired

by Mayberry over the years with the intent to eventually mount an exhibition coinciding with

Remembrance Day. 

Finding surviving Sampson-Matthew prints in good to pristine condition has become more and more

difficult. Many were badly damaged or became victims of poor storage conditions. 

Works in the Mayberry exhibition are priced from $1200 to $7500 (framed) – offering a perfect entry

level for people interested in collecting Canadian art, and art of historical significance.

A highlight is Binning’s abstract work Ships in Classical Calm. It was the least requested image during the

post-war phase of the program given the public had not yet warmed to abstract art.

Today, Ships is a rarity among remaining Sampson-Matthews works because fewer of them were

produced. It,  along with Emily Carr’s Indian Church, command top dollar.

Bill Mayberry was introduced to Sampson-Matthews prints shortly after immigrating to Canada in 1970

and taking a job with a gallery as a framer. He was captivated by the Canada he had yet to see as

depicted in the prints.

Within a few years, Mayberry opened his own gallery and bought the silkscreens whenever they came

up for sale at auction. 

Hardcover copies of the book Art for War and Peace are available for purchase at Mayberry Fine Art.

The book, priced at $100, details the Sampson-Matthews story and includes full-colour reproductions of

the silkscreens.

The Mayberry exhibition works can be viewed online as of November 8 at

Mayberry Fine Art | Canadian Art Gallery | Winnipeg | Toronto has been helping clients build valuable

collections of Canadian art for 50 years. In addition to galleries in Winnipeg and Toronto, their

operations include an online and live auction house in partnership with Cowley Abbott, a specialist in

that field. Mayberry Fine Art is among Canada’s premier private art galleries and considered a foremost

expert in historical and contemporary Canadian fine art.