Laurence Hyde: Master Engraver

October 6th, 2013 – January 26th, 2013

In 1985, the RMG was given over fifty prints by Laurence Hyde from the estate of his teacher, Charles Goldhamer, who had amassed an impressive collection of Hyde’s work, including the only known copy of the Seven Ages of Man series.

Born in England in 1914, Hyde came to Canada at the age of twelve. Two early encounters were of particular importance to his career: in 1928, he saw Lawren Harris’ paintings at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the AGO), and in 1932 he met the artist Thoreau Macdonald. These experiences led Hyde to Toronto’s Central Technical School where he took classes under Goldhamer, Robert Ross, and Carl Schaefer.

During his career, Hyde would primarily produce wood engravings, a method that uses hardwood blocks, cut across the grain. Because of the hardness of the wood, very fine, precise lines can be achieved and the prints are quite small.

After completing art school, Hyde worked for Golden Dog Press. There he worked on his own engravings, including a series on Macbeth and the unpublished Discovery series. He also produced illustrations as a freelance artist, and in 1942, began working for the National Film Board’s animation department where he worked until his retirement in 1972.

Hyde was able to convey powerful stories through compositions of light and dark imagery within a very small format. Each work has a strong, individual presence that shows the artist’s technical virtuosity and ability to convey emotion through simple imagery.