Roberts Gallery Blog
Roberts Gallery Blog

North Door, Heliconian Club by Albert Franck

featured image: North Door, Heliconian Club, 24 x 20 in., oil on board, 1956

In this painting, you can recognize the façade of the historic Heliconian Club, located at 35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto. The Club, “a non-profit organization, is the oldest association of its kind in Canada, founded in 1909 to give women in the arts and letters an opportunity to meet socially and intellectually.” Albert Franck‘s connection to the Club is close to home – directly from home in fact, as it was his wife, Florence Vale, an artist in her own right, who was a member.

The building is a subject Franck painted a few times, an example seen just here below also from 1956, and also another evening/night scene. The technical qualities I wish to point out is how well Franck understood glazing his oil paint to create depth and atmosphere. The orange evening sky is almost entirely just the Burnt Umber/Yellow Ochre (or likewise) under-painting, where he then used thin glaze application to build up his foreground. Another key feature I love is the (presumably) Prussian Blue shadow of the tree on the Club’s exterior. This is not only a believable dimensional quality, but also a colour theory treat to the eye.

Image: Heliconian Club, 35 x 28.5 in., oil on masonite, 1956
from page 57 in Albert Franck: His life, Times & Work by Harold Town


I have also attached an image directly from the Heliconian Club website that shows the imposing tree Franck painted in both aforementioned pieces, which elegantly obstructs the Club’s front rose window.

Courtesy of the Heliconian Club website

One of Roberts Gallery’s contemporary artists Ruthia Pak Regis was an artist in residence with the Heliconian Club back in 2015-2016 and became Club president in 2019. She specialized in painting and drawing at York University and uses photo references to observe the various lines, shapes, and colours to create works between realism and abstraction.