William Townsend

William Townsend, painter (b at London, Eng 23 Feb 1909; d at Banff, Alta 4 July 1973). He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1926-30) and then worked in England as a painter and book illustrator. He came to Canada in 1951 to teach at the Banff Centre and returned regularly to teach there and at U of A until his death. He set up the Leverhulme Scholarship for Canadian artists to study abroad and edited Canadian Art Today. Of his many paintings produced in Alberta, his Cascade series (1966-68), based on one of the mountains that overlooks Banff, is considered the most accomplished of his career. The paintings and related drawings utilize abstract shapes indicating proportion, light and a sense of the atmosphere. These highly refined paintings connote a response to a vast scale. He transferred what he knew from the British tradition to this new environment, addressing the daunting nature of the landscape. He kept detailed diaries throughout his life, which he donated to University College, London, and The Townsend Journals, edited by Andrew Forge (1976), cover the period 1928-51.