History reflected in painting genre

Looking Back column by the Maple Ridge Historical Society

Brian Croft will be at St. Andrew’s church on April 26.

Brian Croft will be at St. Andrew’s church on April 26.

Sometimes we forget art is history, too.

History painting is a genre about subject matter over artistic style.

Today we tend to think of art as style over subject.

History painting depicts a narrative story, and is also referred to as “story painting.”

It is generally understood to have declined during the late 19th Century and transformed into more of an illustration art.

Many genres afterward were, in fact, built on the rejection of history painting.

However, that does not diminish its impact. At its height, it was the highest form of western painting. Many scenes often depicted numerous people, often in battle, which gave way to the “epic” nature of the genre.  But not all. At a community level, history painting is often used to depict various streetscapes as they once were.

On Thursday April 26th at 7:30pm, the Maple Ridge Historical Society will be hosting a presentation at St. Andrew’s Heritage Church (22279 – 116th Ave, just west of the Haney Bypass), with artist Brian Croft, a former fighter pilot with the Canadian Forces. He is now a widely recognized artist whose work depicts locales surrounding Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

He has introduced a historical and heritage perspective into his work and this has become the focal element and trademark of his various collections.

Croft’s major works are now rendered on canvas and his research and paint process continues to produce highly detailed and evocative paintings of our past. He resides in Langley, B.C. and has created more than 380 works.

Croft will speak of the evolving nature of his work with a special emphasis on the intriguing nature of the historical research required to render each canvas as a legitimate portrayal of our past. He will also introduce each painting in a way that invites the viewer to step into warm and sensitive scenes of our past and the past lives of our ancestors in Vancouver and British Columbia.

• This Maple Ridge Historical Society program is free for members.  Drop-in visitors are welcome to attend for a $2 fee.

Allison White is curator at the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives.