May 12, 2005 12:52 ET

Canada Post To Spotlight Homer Ransford Watson-Stamps Show Artist's Power, Love Of Nature And Country

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 12, 2005) - Homer Ransford Watson (1855-1936) is that rare being whose art speaks to the ages. Sadly, this great artist's work, well-known in his day, has gone from recognition to oblivion, except for the few, true aficionados of early Canadian art. On May 27, Canada Post will end Homer Watson's absence from public view by issuing two stamps featuring works from this prominent Canadian artist. A domestic-rate stamp will feature Down in the Laurentides and The Flood Gate will grace the U.S.-rate stamp.

These stamps, the latest in the Canada Post Masterpieces of Canadian Art series, will recognize the 150th anniversary of Watson's birth, the 125th anniversary of the National Gallery of Canada and the 125th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Elected a member of the Academy in 1882, he later served as its President from 1918 to 1922.

Watson's paintings reflect in mood, texture, colour and composition, a deep knowledge of nature and its impact on man and beast. Contemporaries called him the "Canadian Constable" because his style of painting was so reminiscent of British artist John Constable.

Watson was born in, and died in, Doon (near Kitchener), Ontario. It was obvious from an early age that this son of the earth was more interested in art than farming. Mostly self-taught, Watson had little formal training. It is when he moved to Toronto, at the age of 19, that he began making contacts with a number of artists. It did not take long for his work and his preoccupation with the dramatic wildness of nature to attract the attention of prominent people. He counted among his patrons Oscar Wilde, the Marquis of Lorne (then Governor General of Canada) and Queen Victoria.

In 1880, the Marquis of Lorne opened the first exhibition by the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and, at the same time, the National Gallery of Canada. Over the years, the Gallery has expanded its collection with thousands of acquisitions and donations.

The stamps are the work of designer Helene L'Heureux (whose feisty rooster stamp trumpeted in the Year of the Rooster that began on February 9, 2005). The domestic-rate (50-cent) stamp will be available in panes of 16. The 85-cent stamp will only be available as part of the souvenir sheet of both stamps. The 50-cent stamp measures 49 mm x 32 mm, while the 85-cent stamp measures 150 mm x 86 mm. Lowe-Martin printed 3 million of the domestic-rate stamps, and 200,000 souvenir sheets, using 8-colour lithography, and P.V.A. gum, on Tullis Russell Coatings paper. The stamps are general tagged on all four sides. The Official First Day Covers will read KITCHENER, ONTARIO.

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and a downloadable high-resolution photo of the Homer Watson stamps are in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day covers will be available at participating post offices, can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website , or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: (902) 863-6550.

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