C. Anthony Law


Commander C. Anthony Law, DSC, RCN was born in 1916 in London, England to Canadian parents. He spent three years at Upper Canada College, and then moved to the University of Ottawa where he joined the Art Association of Ottawa and studied under Frank Varley, Franklin Brownell, and Frank Hennessey. Later, in Montreal, Law studied under Percyval Tudor-Hart.

Originally joining the army, Law transferred to the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940 and was shortly dispatched. Despite the hazardous job of commanding a motor torpedo boat, and later the 29th Canadian Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla, Law continued to paint and became a temporary war artist in 1944. Following the destruction of the 29th Flotilla in 1945, Law became an official war artist, completing 29 large oil canvasses and 75 oil sketches. In 1955 Law became second-in-command of the Arctic patrol ship Labrador on which he made many sketches and paintings. In 1961 he took command of the destroyer HMCS Sioux. He was Commander of the Third Escort Squadron and his last command was on the mobile repair ship HMCS Cape Scott. Commander Law retired from the navy in 1966.

Law’s post-war works provide the viewers with Nova Scotian and Canadian landscapes in a vigorous and bold realism, where colour is the primary concern. Influenced by the Group of Seven tradition, his works are a robust and distinctly Canadian approach to landscape painting. Law made several trips to the north while serving with the Royal Canadian Navy and it was in the Arctic that Law found the landscape that spoke to him the most - a raw and primal land that enhanced and heightened his desire for rendering a landscape at its most simple, yet monumental and powerful.

Law and his wife, the artist Jane Shaw, settled in Halifax in the 1950s. A vital force in the Nova Scotia art community, Law played an active role in the creation of both the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. He was Chairman of the AGNS’s Board of Governors from 1977 to 1979 and artist-in-residence at Saint Mary’s University from 1967 to 1980.

Law's first solo exhibition was held in Quebec City in 1937. In 1939 he was awarded the Jessie Dow Prize for oils in the 56th Annual Spring Exhibition of the Art Association of Montreal. Law’s works have been exhibited at many institutions, including the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, London’s National Gallery, Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, the Royal Canadian Academy, the National Gallery of Canada, and a retrospective exhibition in 1989 by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. His works are in the collections of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Canada House (London, England), the Confederation Centre of the Arts, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Canadian War Museum and the Musée naval de Québec.