One of the main things I didn’t know about Frederick Banting before coming here was that he was a painter, along with being a doctor and researcher. Here at Banting House NHSC, we have a gallery of a number of his paintings and other works of art, showing a side to him that is not often acknowledged.
Painting became something of a hobby and a form of stress release for Banting while he was living London. He purchased a number of art supplies and took up painting in his spare time. While it was a hobby for him, he was clearly skilled and interested in the world of art. He initially painted landscapes in a very traditional style, and was quite versatile in the art forms he used, also creating sketches, carvings, and prints.
Banting continued to paint throughout his life, and it became a passion of his and a way to relieve stress during his life as a famous scientist and researcher . He created about 200 paintings in his career, along with the other art styles he played around with.
Banting eventually became friends with the Group of Seven and joined the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. He and A.Y. Jackson became particularly close, and the two of them would often go on painting trips together. The influence of the Group of Seven on Banting’s style can clearly be traced throughout his art, as his landscape paintings began to utilize the bold strokes and colours that the Group of Seven became famous for.
Banting entered in many of his paintings to art shows, and endured some criticism, with many saying that he was simply copying the art of the Group of Seven. However, as he was working and learning with the Group of Seven, it is unsurprising that his art displayed their influence. Had Banting survived the Second World War, it is likely that he would have continued on with his painting after his retirement.
Banting’s life as a painter shows another side to him; not only was he a medical researcher, surgeon, and war veteran who made a major medical breakthrough, but he also valued the importance of art and painting. We are lucky to have a wide collection of his art to display to the public, highlighting a more personal side to his life, and proving that he was a man of many talents.
This post was written by Heather Hepburn, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada, and Public History student at the University of Western Ontario.