Robert Wakeham Pilot
Pilot was born on 9 October 1898, at St John’s, Newfoundland, to Edward Frederick Pilot and his wife Barbara (née Merchant). In 1910, his widowed mother married the artist, Maurice Cullen, moving into Cullen’s home in Montreal. As a child, Pilot assisted Cullen in his studio, and the two would take sketching trips together. He later studied in Montreal under William Brymner, then, in March 1916, joined the army. He served as a gunner on trench mortars in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Fifth Division Artillery, during World War I. From 1920-1922, he studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1922, he exhibited at the Paris Salon. His work took on Impressionist influences after he visited the artists’ colony at Concarneau.
On returning to Canada, he was elected as an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1925, serving as the Adcademy’s president from 1952-1954.
His first solo show was in 1927, at the Watson Art Galleries. He won the Jessie Dow Prize in that year and in 1934.
He re-enlisted in 1941, during World War II, serving as a Captain in The Black Watch, and was mentioned in dispatches while in Italy, which resulted in him being made an Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1944. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953.
Paintings by Pilot were presented to Winston Churchill and to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Others are in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.