Monday, April 07, 2014

The Bateman Centre - Victoria

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:  
Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Bald Eagle


Bald Eagles


Red-Winged Blackbirds

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.

Happy travels!


  1. What an amazing artist Bateman is! I'd love to see his work in person. I can only imagine how spectacular it is. I can't believe how excellent his work was as a teenage! True talent. Thank you for sharing his work with us.

  2. I've walked by it. I've heard about it. But I've not yet visited the Gallery. It will make a nice outing one day. Thanks for the preview.

  3. Feeling a little weary midday, I stopped by snd saw your post. What lovely evocative art, right up my alley as is the subject matter. Thanks for sharing this Terri, xo

  4. Oh Terri. This gallery sounds wonderful. It's going onto our itinerary for next time in Victoria. In fact, I just returned from Victoria with my four children. We even all went to afternoon tea at the Empress. So charming. I still maintain that if you & I don't cross paths in Calgary, we will definitely cross paths in Victoria! Much love MMW

  5. Hi Terri-
    His portraits of Canadian wilflife are stunning! If I could afford his work, I would want some for Maine.

  6. I was not familiar with this artist. His work is stunningly beautiful! Those early drawings are amazing. Thank you for introducing me to him!

  7. Lovely work. Not only was my first reaction that they reminded me of Wyeth, the paintings of the fence posts and window with view of roses outside remind me of Rockland, ME where the Wyeth Center is. It must be phenomenal to see the detail close up. (Love the dark gray wall too!)

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