Fred Ross

Fred Ross was born in Saint John, NB, on 12 May 1927. His contributions to New Brunswick’s art community spanned more than sixty-five years and he was one of the province’s most recognized and influential painters. Some of his formative art training took place under Violet Amy Gillett (1898-1996) and Ted Campbell (1904-1985) at the Saint John Vocational School in the mid-1940s. After completing two major mural projects, Ross was able to travel to Mexico to view the work of other muralists. Unable to obtain significant commissions for large-scale works, he turned to the work of Renaissance masters for inspiration and in 1953 travelled to Italy to study their work. Upon his return he taught in the art department of Saint John Vocational school until 1970 when he retired to paint full time. Throughout his career, Ross’ working method included an extensive review of the continuum of artistic developments as source material for his own work. To that end he developed and maintained an extensive research and comparative library of reference material.  Fred Ross died in Saint John on 19 August 2014.

A67-140 - Fred Ross - Boy with White Helmet
Boy with White Helmet, 1965
tempera and ink on Masonite
106 x 75 cm
Gift of Reeves & Sons Limited, 1967 (A67.140)

A significant component of Ross’ figurative work in the 1960s and 1970s explored the relationship among artist, subject and viewer and his work showed an affinity with Balthus [Balthasar Klossowski] (1908-2001) a French-born painter of Polish descent who worked primarily in Switzerland and who was one of the most important figurative painters of the twentieth century. In Ross’ 1965 painting, Boy with White Helmet, a handsome and confident motorcyclist in a black leather jacket evokes all the swagger associated with the coming of age of the post-WWII generation.

1995-21(3) - Fred Ross - Still Life with Pointe Shoes
Still Life with Pointe Shoes
, 1989
acrylic, casein tempera and pastel on board
102 x 71 cm
Gift of Vivian Campbell, 1995 (1995.21)

In the 1980s, Ross concentrated his efforts on the still-life making use of objects to symbolize the figure. Bathed in a soft and clear light, Fred Ross’ painting, Still Life with Pointe Shoes, is filled with allusions. There is a complex language superimposed on the obvious representation of objects in this image. These items can be interpreted as representations of masculinity and femininity or they may even refer to particular individuals. Ross’s fascination with the exotic patterning of the rug is contrasted with the three-dimensional volume and coldness of the decanter and the soft smoothness of the pointe shoes. With a minimum of colour, tone and form, Ross has conjured a masterful work that is filled with charm, mystery and timelessness.

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Recently Conserved Paintings from the New Brunswick Museum Collection

A regular part of the care of a collection is the effort to ensure its preservation. Another facet of a museum’s goal is to share the collection with the public through exhibition. Sometimes objects are unable to be displayed because their condition compromises the artist’s intent or exposing them may actually cause more damage. Over the past thirty years the New Brunswick Museum was engaged in an ongoing fine art conservation project in conjunction with the Provincial Fine Art Conservation Laboratory located at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick. The works listed below have received recent conservation treatment by now-retired Fine Art Conservator of New Brunswick, Adam Karpowicz.

Most venerable museums have artifacts in their care that require some attention. Sometimes significant objects that merit preservation are acquired even though they may not be in prime display condition. Oftentimes the material used by artists, either the varnish or glazes, can deteriorate or change over time. Sometimes the methods used to frame a work may compromise the structure and appearance. Occasionally an item might sustain some accidental damage. Whatever the reason, in order to ensure the long term preservation of the work, an intervention is necessary.

These photos show the paintings before and after Adam Karpowicz applied conservation techniques. His work breathes new life into these paintings, ensuring that the artist’s intention is once again visible.

1b1a
Kenneth Keith Forbes (Canadian, 1892 – 1980)
The Right Honourable Richard Bedford Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada (1930-1935), 1938
oil on canvas
Bequest of the Right Honourable Richard Bedford, Viscount Bennett, 1948 (1948.5)

2b2a
Attributed to Thomas Hanford Wentworth (American, 1781 – 1849)
Portrait of an Unidentified Man
(Possibly Charles Humphrey), c. 1835
oil on canvas
New Brunswick Museum Collection (X16481)

3a3b
John Christopher Miles (Canadian, 1832 – 1911)
Woodland Fishing Scene with Boy, c. 1880
oil on canvas
Gift of Kenneth Allison Wilson, 1954 (1954.165)

4b

4a
John Thomas Stanton (Canadian, c. 1815 – 1866)
after Richard Wilson (British, 1713 – 1782)
The Ruined Temple, 1856
oil on millboard
Purchase, 2004 (2004.13)

5b

5a
Artist Unknown (American School)
Bark Mary Rideout of St. Andrews, N.B., 1868
reverse-painted oil on glass
Purchase, 2010 (2010.36)

6b6a
Michael Anderson (Scottish or Canadian, 1824 – 1853)
Aaron and Hur Staying Up the Hands of Moses during the Battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim, 1850
oil on canvas
Purchase, 1958 (A58.30)

7b

7a
John Christian Schetky (Scottish, 1778-1874)
Battle of the Chesapeake and the Shannon, c. 1815
oil on canvas
John Clarence Webster Canadiana Collection (W1609)

8b8a
Albert Gallatin Hoit (American, 1809 – 1856)
Mary Ann (Maria) Street Berton Beckwith, 1837
oil on canvas
Gift of the Estate of Sir John Douglas Hazen, 1959 (1959.57)

9b9a
Albert Gallatin Hoit (American, 1809 – 1856)
John Adolphus Beckwith, 1837
oil on canvas
Gift of the Estate of Sir John Douglas Hazen, 1959 (1959.56)

10b

10a
Marion Elizabeth Jack (Canadian, 1866 – 1954)
Apple Trees at Burton, New Brunswick, 1922-1930
oil on canvasboard
Gift of Catherine Coombes, 2008 (2008.27.1)