Herbert S. Palmer was born in 1881, in Toronto, Ontario. His artistic training began at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design (known as OCAD now), where he was taught by well-known artists J.W. Beatty and F.S. Challener. A.H. Robson in his book Canadian Landscape Painters, “Herbert S. Palmer established his reputation as a painter of cattle and sheep in the familiar settings of an Ontario background….There is in all Palmer’s work a precision and accuracy of drawing, pleasing and bright colour, and a sympathetic rendering of the Ontario landscape. He has sketched in many parts of the Province, and his cattle pictures reveal, in their landscape settings, something of the real character of the district. His work is deservedly well known and popular.”
Palmer’s importance to the Canadian Art landscape is felt in both is work and his service in many administrative roles in major Canadian institutions. His first public exhibition was with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1905, to which he was elected a member in 1909, and was given the role of Secretary in 1926. He was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1915, and an Academician in 1934. Palmer was a founding member of the Arts and Letters Club, which was established in 1908. For nearly 40 years he was associated with the Canadian National Exhibition, curating its Fine Art Department from 1926 to 1941. In 1960, by unanimous decision, he was awarded the first annual Baxter Foundation Fellowship for his dedication both as an artist and as an adherent to Canadian Art. The one endeavour that Palmer was said to have looked back upon with the most pride and satisfaction was a 1914 exhibition that he arranged and curated for the RCA of works donated by Canadian artists to be sold in support of the Canadian effort in WW1. His work hangs in the AGO and National Gallery of Canada. He passed away in 1970.