Robert Bateman is a famous Canadian wildlife artist and naturalist who lives and paints on Salt Spring Island, off Canada's west coast.
He's now 83 and has painted since his teens.
Photo: Bateman Centre
On a recent trip to Victoria, I was excited to visit the new Bateman Centre, which houses a beautiful and varied collection of Robert Bateman paintings inside the beautifully-restored Steamship Terminal building on Victoria's inner harbour.
The dreamy, airy gallery does not disappoint.
It opens with a collection of serene, large-scale Canadian wildlife paintings, a subject and style that will be recognizable to many Canadians:
I was expecting a gallery full of this type of painting, a style that I was previously most familiar with. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a variety of other beautifully-depicted subjects.
The next room housed some lovely small paintings - charming vignettes of daily life (I found the style reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth, which the gallery also noted):
I was also thrilled and charmed to see some of Bateman's very early work, done as a young teen. His naturalist eye and painstaking talent for detail is evident in this small painting done when he was only 12 or 13 years old!
This study of birds in their environment is so charming and impressive for such a young person (age 13 or 14):
I was also charmed by this small portrait and surprised to see his talent for such diverse subjects. He could easily make a career painting portraits if the wildlife ones didn't work out. ;)
If you're in Victoria, be sure to make time for the Bateman Centre. It took me about 45 minutes to see the entire collection (and I lingered...). The gallery makes a short but very meditative and enriching break from sightseeing.
We also had an amazing dinner later that night (with impeccable service) downstairs at the Steamship Terminal Grill & Taphouse, located on the main floor.